PW Daily reports that a mere six weeks after it acquired complete ownership of Bookspan, Bertelsmann has initiated a major overhaul of the book club business, a process that will eliminate 280 positions, or about 15% of its workforce of 1,900. As part of integrating Bookspan into BMG Columbia House, an unspecified number of smaller clubs will be closed, including American Compass, InsightOut Book Club and Behavioral Science Book Service, as will Madison Park Press, the publishing program launched about 18 months ago. Madison Park’s staff, including editor Christine Zika, will be let go but the fate of its publisher, Carole Baron, remained unclear as of this time. However, since Baron is also acting in an at-large capacity with Knopf (most recently acquiring the debut novel from Poppy Adams) it’s possible her duties there may increase in the wake of Bookspan’s new plans.
“A number of small, specialized clubs will either be combined with another book club or phased out by the end of 2007,” says company spokeswoman Paula Batson. “This realignment will enable the company to focus its assets and efforts on its core book club brands such as Book-of-the-Month, Doubleday, Black Expressions, Crossings and The Literary Guild as well as its music and DVD club businesses.” The clubs will be phased out over the rest of the year and members will be given the chance to transfer to a different club. Books from some clubs will also be made available through the general interest and other specialized clubs.