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Gloomy times for the U.S. book trade

News broke yesterday that Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House U.S., is laying off 16 employees – a 10% cut in staff.

While David Drake, a Doubleday spokesperson, denies that the cuts have anything to do with the delay of Dan Brown’s next novel (originally scheduled for 2005), that hasn’t stopped The New York Observer from speculating about how the disappointing performances of some other titles may have contributed to the firm’s woes.

The cuts come on the heels of a painful year during which several of Doubleday’s big bets did not pan out, among them Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle, which famously drew an advance of $1.25 million but failed to ignite the bestseller list upon publication this summer, and Jon Krakauer’s biography of Pat Tillman, which the author unexpectedly canceled after promotion had already gotten underway.

(The Observer also confirms the identities of four of the people laid off.)

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