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Depressed economy not all bad news for publishers

The economic turmoil in global financial markets is making a lot of folks depressed (ha!), but it apparently hasn’t stopped one mega-publisher from handing out generous bonuses to staff. The same week that Houghton Mifflin announced it was temporarily suspending new manuscript acquisitions, Hachette Book Group revealed its holiday munificence. As Motoko Rich writes in The New York Times:

As first reported by Publishers Lunch, an industry newsletter, Hachette is giving bonuses equal to one week’s salary to every employee in the company, in addition to the regular bonuses for which staff members are eligible.

Hachette, which recently opened a Canadian office, can afford to throw a little money around. Its Little, Brown and Grand Central Publishing units publish superstar authors James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Stephenie Meyer, whose Twilight series has begun to outsell even J.K. Rowling.

Houghton Mifflin, on the other hand, publishes writers like Philip Roth and Günter Grass. It can claim literary superiority, but clearly doesn’t have the same clout at the cash register. In times of economic hardship, teen vampires are a better draw than Pulitzer Prize-winners.