Houghton Mifflin Harcourt issued a statement shortly after noon confirming—in extremely vague terms—that layoffs are indeed taking place: "In light of the challenging conditions worldwide, the company has taken a hard look at its business and is making changes in some of its other operations to lower expenses." Media Mob called Josef Blumenfeld, who wrote the announcement, shortly afterwards to clarify.
"It means exactly what it says," Mr. Blumenfeld said.
Is the trade division being prepared for sale? "We don’t comment on market rumors," Mr. Blumenfeld responded.
Why didn’t HMH’s parent company sell off the trade operation right after the merger? What were the leadership’s hopes or expectations for it? "I don’t know that I can comment on that. It’s before my time," said Mr. Blumenfeld, who came to work for HMH six weeks ago.
Are agents starting to pull books they’ve sold to HMH in the past few months?
"I can tell you that we are going to enthusaistically support our winter and spring lists," Mr. Blumenfeld said.
And past that? "Can’t comment. I wouldn’t see any reason why that would be any different—why the enthusiastic support would change."