9 January 09 | Chad W. Post

Man, every article in my Google Reader seems to be filled with doom and gloom . . . Here are just a few:

  • “Store sales fell 5.2% at Barnes & Noble in the nine week holiday period ended Jan. 3, dropping to $1.1 billion. Same store sales at the nation’s largest bookstore chain fell 7.7%; B&N had predicted that comp sales would fall between 6% to 9%. The company attributed the decline to a drop in store traffic, although business improved in the second half of December and the retailer posted positive comp sales in the final two weeks of the season. B&N’s stores actually performed better than B&N.com where sales fell 11.0% over the holidays, to $114.2 million. [. . .] B&N performed better than Borders where total sales fell 11.7% and superstore comps were down 13.6%.” [from PW ]
  • “[Houghton Mifflin Harcourt] has been downgraded by Moody’s, the credit-rating agency. According to a report in The Financial Times by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, the problem was ‘HMH’s debt stood at 10.5 times ebitda [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization],’ and Moody’s ‘warned of liquidity pressures and ‘a likely default’.’ Moody’s said it felt HMH—the country’s second-largest education publisher–was unlikely to reduce its debt sufficiently because the financial crisis was leading to cutbacks in US education budgets, and because there were ‘shortfalls in HMH’s business plan’ “ [from MobyLives ]
  • “But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if the New York Times goes out of business—like, this May? It’s certainly plausible. Earnings reports released by the New York Times Company in October indicate that drastic measures will have to be taken over the next five months or the paper will default on some $400million in debt. With more than $1billion in debt already on the books, only $46million in cash reserves as of October, and no clear way to tap into the capital markets (the company’s debt was recently reduced to junk status), the paper’s future doesn’t look good. [from The Atlantic ]
  • And poor Detroit: “A decision by the General Motors Foundation to sharply cut back on its multimillion-dollar sponsorship of metro Detroit’s top cultural institutions puts Michigan’s nonprofit community on notice that it stands to lose millions in philanthropic dollars as the auto industry fights for its life. GM has already notified about a dozen arts and cultural groups, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Music Hall, the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Detroit Institute of Arts, not to expect any annual support from the company in 2009.” [from the now only three-times-a-week Detroit Free Press ]

Looks like this is going to be a fun year . . .

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