Should We Lay Off By Seniority?

by Marian Schembari on December 16, 2009

I had an interesting conversation today with a friend that’s been bugging me ever since. Certain companies are changing their policies by laying off based on seniority. Meaning the newbies are the first to go. Initially, this made a lot of sense to me, but then I had a think. Of course people who have been at a company for years should probably not get the initial boot. However, usually those who are newest are also the youngest. And I hate to reinforce a stereotype but, more often than not, it’s the young people who are most tuned in with social and technological changes.

So if a newspaper or talk show or publishing house decides to get rid of 100 young employees, where does that leave the company? Screwed, that’s where. It’s not just the publishing industry that’s changing. Finance (obviously), education, government, media, whatever… The rate of change means that all these industries are so different from what they were forty years ago. What they were two years ago. So while an employee at Newspaper X may have been there for 30 years and knows the paper like the back of his or her hand, they may not know the best course of action for that paper today.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think laying off by seniority is the smartest course of action. There is absolutely no reason to keep a college grad at a huge corporation over a veteran. However, unless said veteran is making a hell of an effort to keep up with the times rather than sticking to dinosaur ways, well, then seniority doesn’t matter and the industry will go down the tube anyway. And then everyone will be out of a job.


No, really…

by Marian Schembari on November 3, 2009

Well then! Apparently I pissed some people off! Is it weird if my response to that is “awesome”?

Negativity, worrying, stress and doubt really piss me off. I don’t want to hear about how hard it is to get a job or how the media is dying. Are these things not true? Of course not. But I don’t like worrying, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t stress me out. The thing is, we are in a difficult time. The other thing is that the way things have always been done is not going to solve these problems.

If you think I’m callous, or in the words of one commenter, “self centered and glib”, I assure you I do my research. While I refuse to do the whole “today I went to the market”-personal-shit on my blog, I have been affected in my non-publishing life by said recession. Remember, 3 out of my 5 other family members work for The New York Times. Both parents are published authors. I work in publishing. I am, in fact, fully informed.

Maybe it’s my youth and/or nativity. Or my glibness. Or maybe my optimism. But I see people every day doing ridiculously amazing things and making it in the media world, despite the recession. Times are a-changing, and some people roll with it and succeed. Others roll over instead.

Example: Bookavore wrote a badass comment, with a lot of great points. In all technicality, since she is a bookseller, I accused her of whining. After doing my research and checking out WORD (her shop), she is NOT who I was referring to in my post. In fact, she is a bookseller who appears to be taking this stuff in stride. Check out the site, you’ll see what I mean.

The “whiners” I referred to are those who don’t have the imagination or creatively to turn a shitty situation into a good thing. A bookstore who can’t see passed the dropping price of books. Yeah, for those stores who are only open 9-5 and charge $25.00 for a new book, whine away. Sucks to be you. But for those who have events and make funny videos about the Kindle, and FIGHT BACK… Well, don’t whine. Because you’re awesome and I want to be your friend.

So I hope this clarifies my point. I like people who think outside the box, and in “this economy” (I said it… shudder) you are the people who are not only going to survive, but thrive.

WORD Brooklyn

WORD Brooklyn


Books are cheaper now, get over it…

by Marian Schembari on November 1, 2009

The book price war is a good thing. And I’m almost as bored of people talking about this as I am about the economy killing publishing. My usual response to such boredom: “get over it”.

I’m sorry, but I’m a 22-year-old college grad with a completely useless degree (gender studies), living in Manhattan, with the worst public library system EVER. And I work with books. Remind me again why I should cry about Wal-Mart and Amazon (among others, apparently) duking it out so I can pay less for a good read?people put the weirdest shit on flickr

For those of you living under a rock, essentially these two superstores keep lowering their book prices, and they tend to hover around $10 a pop for a recent bestseller. Publishers, bookstores, agents and authors are having a grand ole time whining about the loss of their livelihood and the death of the book. Now, as mentioned in an earlier post, this brand of negativity makes me sleepy.

I understand publishing is a business. And I’m the first person to jump up and defend that it’s the most important one. I also know that somewhere an angel loses it’s wings every time some indy bookstore closes for good. But come on people! Remember what publishing is about?!?! Books! Learning! End. Of. Story.

If Wal-Mart wants to hemorrhage money to prove they’re the biggest and the baddest, than that’s their problem. And if more people are reading and buying books in the process? That’s wonderful! I, for one, plan on taking serious advantage of this lucky turn of events while I can.

Example: I just recently moved from Greenwich, CT to Manhattan. The Greenwich Library is one of my favorite places on Earth. Not only is it a great space, but I got Dan Brown’s new book 2 days after it came out. They are well stocked, easy, accessible, and beautiful. New York, on the other hand, is gross, dingy, horribly stocked and slow. Sorry, guys. More on that later I guess. Anyway, there are a ton of books I want to read, but the library doesn’t stock them or I’m the 1,000th hold of 1,000 holds (this doesn’t change ever, mind you). But I can’t NOT read. But I can’t afford to buy books all the time either, especially new ones. This point is exaggerated even more so when they suck. In comes Amazon to save the day! Say what you will, but if I could have bought Dan’s novel for $10 the day it came out, I would have been all over that.

I love independent bookstores, and if I’m in a rush, or can’t find a book for less money, I will support them all the way. But I’m cheap and literary. And apparently, these two cannot coexist.