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HarperCollins closing warehouse, almost 200 will lose jobs

9 November 2012

From the Scranton Times-Tribune:

HarperCollins Publishers will close its warehouse and distribution operation in Throop next summer and put close to 200 people out of work.

“The industry is changing,” said Erin Crum, spokeswoman for HarperCollins, a book publisher based in New York. “It just makes sense for us to go this route as we shift to a more digital industry.”

Ms. Crum would not disclose how many people will be laid off when the warehouse at the Keystone Industrial Park closes.

However, Craig Pawlik, principal officer of Teamsters Local 229 in Scranton, said 192 people will be furloughed. The union represents maintenance and warehouse workers at the facility.

“They are stunned,” Mr. Pawlik said. “Their last day in Dunmore will be sometime in September 2013.”

. . . .

The warehouse’s demise illustrates the impact of e-reading devices, such as Amazon.com’s Kindle, on the publishing field.

Print book sales dropped by more than 9 percent in 2011 from the preceding year, according to the Nielsen Co., a New York media and information concern. In August, a publishing industry survey showed paperback book sales had decreased by 14 percent since 2008.

“The economy is constantly evolving,” Mr. Burke said. “Nationally, we see bookstores closing. We see publishers merging and we see logistics being consolidated and outsourced.”

Link to the rest at the Scranton Times-Tribune and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Big Publishing

14 Comments to “HarperCollins closing warehouse, almost 200 will lose jobs”

  1. You can’t stop progress.

  2. To be fair, anyone who’s stunned by this hasn’t been keeping up with the news in their industry. It sucks for the people involved, but anyone whose job depends on moving paper books around the country should be considering other options at this point.

    • I agree with Edward. It’s extremely sad, but if one expects their job to last forever and never expands their education or skill level, eventually it catches up. Look at the post office. They could be competing with UPS and FEDEX with more packages instead of just letter and small package mail, but its not a change they’re making. Internet/email is making most of the obsolete, but until we have transporter beams, we’ll still need to ship large items.

  3. Sad. I agree with Edward, though. I hope people who work in the logging, printing and book distribution industries are thinking ahead.

  4. The more interesting question is, why does Harper Collins need their own warehouse at all, and why are 200 people necessary to staff it?

    Seriously, I’ve worked in manufacturing a long time, and I can’t figure this out. Harper Collins does not print books, nor does it, so far as I know, generally sell large volumes to bookstores. It pays distributors to do this.

    So what is stored in this warehouse? The only possible answer must be low sales volume books that they don’t want to see out-of-print. So it seems likely that these workers are not casualties of the switch to digital, but rather the switch to cheaper print-on-demand technology.

    Also? 200 people in a warehouse is a lot. Many medium-sized fulfillment centers don’t have 200 workers.

    • Jean I’m sorry to tell you but I work at Harper Collins and have done so for the past 5 years. I work on a machine called a “cherry picker”, which involves driving around and labeling cases of books and lifting them from the shelves to a pallet attached to my machine. Alot of heavy lifting and we ship out thousands of cases of books on a daily basis. We have many clients that we ship to. We also have 2 shifts and 2 warehouses which make up the 200 employees. We house Disney/Hyperion, Smithsonian, HarperColllins, and etc titles. And no they are not low sales volume books. We all have families to support and alot of my coworkers have dedicated their lives to this company(some as many as 40 years. The warehouse and all my coworkers will be sadly missed when we close for good. :(

      • I’m not denigrating your work, and I’m sorry you are losing your job. But what you are describing is work that distributors do, presumably in addition to your work, or in parallel.

        Harper Collins then is then ordering product from printers, and storing themselves before selling it to distributors or to bookstores themselves. From a business perspective, that does not make sense.

      • I’m so sorry Roberta. That is really tough.

        I wish the absolute best for you, your family and co-workers!

  5. They’re just doing this now. Effective in 10 months.

  6. Not many environmentalists will complain about logging hitting the skids. I live in what was once a very prosperous lumbering region and now see bumperstickers on trucks that say “If you don’t like logging, try using plastic toilet paper.”

    Or we could forget toilet paper and go for the three seashells.

    • According to Paul Stamets in Mycelium Running timber is not truly a renewable resource, at least not when it is clear cut.

      With each clear cut, the soil of the forest grows thinner and less nourishing, and the next generation of trees creates wood of poorer quality.

      In the Pacific Northwest, logging companies are harvesting the third replanting. No one is planning a fourth replanting, because the soil is too depleted. Land cleared of the third replanting is being sold.

  7. Maybe Amazon will buy it out and rehire the people. :p

  8. “HarperCollins also reported it will close a warehouse in Nashville, exit the distribution field and hand off its warehousing and distribution functions to RR Donnelly, a Chicago-based printer.” (from the same article)

    Wonder if this is merely a move to make them a more attractive partner for merger, or if this move is a sign that, like merger talks, they’ve finally woken up and started acting to survive?

  9. Creative destruction is what this is all about. And yes, it would seem HarperCollins is rationalizing and streamlining operations before a (possible) merger. Because mergers are probably the only way to survive in this new (threatening) digital world…

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