Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kirshbaum to Leave Amazon Publishing In January, As Third Quarter Sales Grow On Modest Loss

Publishers Lunch

Larry Kirshbaum, 69, will leave his position as publisher of Amazon's US trade publishing imprints on January 17, roughly two and a half years after joining the company, as first reported this morning by Shelf Awareness. Since that report, Amazon has officially confirmed what Shelf had "learned" and supplied the departure date. The company said, "We're sorry to see him go, and wish him the best of luck as he returns to life as a literary agent."

Additional elements of their unsourced story -- "the most ambitious part of Amazon's publishing operations will be scaled back. Already several editorial people have left or been let go" -- are less clear. A few editors have left Amazon's various imprints during 2013, with the departures of Tim Ditlow, Eleni Caminis (for Samsung) David Moldawer (for an education company), and Liz Egan (for Glamour Magazine) all previously reported, and editorial director of Amazon Publishing in New York Julia Cheiffetz is currently out on maternity leave. But Amazon Publishing's website still lists 27 editors from across the company's sprawl of imprints.

The evening before Kirshbaum's departure was announced, Amazon reported third quarter sales after the close of the market on Thursday that were consistent with the company's recent pattern, growing sales significantly and continuing to lose a little bit of money along the way. With shares already trading near record levels, the stock was buoyant in after-market trading Thursday and on Friday morning it was up roughly 10 percent, at a new all-time high of approximately $365 a share. As usual, internet-fueled theories that minor changes in shipping charges were related to some extraordinary impairment to the company's p&l were completely wrong.

Sales grew 24 percent to $17.1 billion with an operating loss of $25 million (slightly less than the $28 million loss of a year ago). The company's net loss of $41 million, or 9 cents a share, was far better than the $274 million loss at the same time last year (when Amazon took a nearly $170 million write-off related to its acquisition of LivingSocial.) Those numbers were in line with, and at the high end of, the company's broad range of guidance.

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