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Friday, 27 February 2009

The San Francisco Chronicle costs twice as much to produce and deliver as customers are paying for it, reports the newspaper. Owner The Hearst Corporation wants staff cuts across the board to reduce overheads, or it will shut down the paper, which it purchased in 2000.

The staff report, which clearly aims to impress unions as much as inform readers, says "the loss of classified advertising to Craigslist and other online sites" combined with the global financial crisis to create very unfavourable conditions for the paper, which has been published since 1865.

In other bad news from Stateside, Novella Carpenter ponders the dwindling fortunes of book publishers, naming HarperCollins as especially hard hit by the slow economy. Carpenter had a particular reason to look into the case as her book is due out in mid year.

Staff at Random House "have been holding their breath, worrying about whether the axe will come down on them", a correspondent told her.

Carpenter meets Linda O'Connor, a Las Vegas stand-up comedienne who is self publishing her memoir, Bastard Husband: A Love Story. "The economy isn't going to stop me," she said. "People are going to pay $15 for my book -- that's not going to break anyone's bank."

Bucking the negative trend is a small New York publishing house, Europa Editions, which has turned "a loyal following" into a profit. The company only publishes books in translation and has had its first bestseller, Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which has sold 71,000 copies.

The novel "had been a sensation in France" and the company had already turned that success into positive returns by translating it into Italian for that country's market.

Europa Editions was founded by an Italian couple, Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzola Ferri. The publisher in New York is Kent Carroll, a veteran of Grove Press.

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