Monday, November 24, 2008
--my company's CEO
As six-month-old colleague, I was treated to my company's -- I'm deliberately not naming the corporation -- orientation with the CEO. I have heard this man speak only twice, and have bumped into him on the elevators a few times, yet he's inspired so much pride because he speaks honestly with humor and humility.
A good chunk of his speech was about the current economic climate. He frankly explained how publishing, and our business in particular, is hurting. Consumers are being cautious with their money, so retail spending (at Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, independent bookstores...) is down, hence sales reps are selling fewer books. Moreover, since credit is hard to come by, fewer people are able to invest in themselves and stay in school, so textbook sales are down. He said this is the first time he's seen across-the-board struggling.
How are we surviving? With an excellent business model in which we satisfy our customers better than our competitors, "the other guys." There's been overall saving in re-negotiations for PPB (paper, printing, and binding) and benefits. So even though we're hurting with making money, we've saved enough not to really feel it.
We're also not going through a hiring freeze, though HR is obviously being more selective and departments doing more with fewer people. He called layoffs "dis-invitations," which he takes seriously. "I handle dis-invitations personally," he explained. "It's my duty, because if I have to dis-invite someone that's effectively saying 'I screwed up.' I expect them to hold me accountable."
It was refreshing to hear this kind corporate responsibility, especially after what happened at Doubleday. In short, sixteen people lost their jobs due to financial mis-management. The big wigs that signed off on these decisions remain.
Not only have I been following this story because I'm in publishing but the imprint I worked with last summer was hurt. Someone who was there from the start of S&G lost her job, and someone recruited just this January did too. It's a real shame. Now, I doubt S&G itself is completely blameless, as its spent a bunch of money that I have no idea how they plan on recouping, but I'd rather the people who made sweeping poor decisions live with less than employees get pink-slipped. Hell, I'd rather a publisher stop publishing than have people lose their jobs.
When I was getting my publishing certificate at CCNY, the professors prophesied that the electronic format would be the death of the book. I always doubted that would be the case, and I doubt a bad economy will do it either, but these are distressing times for everyone as every market model turbulently changes.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Ylon and I are walking back from his hotel room to the Penn and Teller theater after the dinner break for the 2008 World Series of Poker. He puts his arm around my shoulder, I suggest he cops a feel while he's at it, and Current asks for a kiss for the camera.
Ylon's moist lips made me glad it was just one smooch.
The camera didn't catch when my boob popped out of my bra and tank the next day en route to the Atomic Testing Museum.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
In short, German real-estate developers want to tear down a number of seedy clubs in LA, and one, where the owner takes in sincere young folk -- like destined-to-be-a-couple Drew and Sherrie -- refuses to be bought out and puts on one big last show with a famous name the place created to save the club's legacy, e.g. think of the money CBGB could have made if the Ramones were able to play its last show. Sprinkle in hits from eighties hair bands, and you've got an off-Broadway show!
I knew I was going to dislike the production once the show opened with a narrator with blatant disregard for the fourth wall and has "meta" exchanges with the audience, like: "What kind of story would this be without love?" To make matters worse, the actor went to the Jack Black School of Over-Acting.
Perhaps disliking the show from the start was ultimately beneficial since I could then focus on things that I appreciated: The very talented actors, sans faux Jack Black, are sure to be handed much better roles once this production closes -- Will Swenson has the voice, the moves, and the correct level of camp to make anyone a fan for life -- the impressive choreography will want to make you get up and dance, and the secondary storyline of re-development hit close to home, as the character who begins the protest against razing the beloved club embodies Miss Heather.
I probably shouldn't be too harsh on the show since I got to see it free; on the other hand, my date wanted to leave during intermission. Ultimately Rock of Ages will provide mindless entertainment if that's your goal. Here's a good deal so you don't break the bank: Make an account with Playbill.com, and click here to see the show for $40.