Powell’s employees question justification for layoffs


Last week, Powell’s Books laid off 31 workers, about 7% of the independent bookseller’s workforce.

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Last week, Powell’s Books laid off 31 workers, about 7% of the independent bookseller’s workforce.

Now, employees are speaking out about the layoffs, saying that the company is using e-books as a straw man.

“We didn’t really see it in the trenches,” says [laid-off employee Brian] Booty, who has worked on and off at Powell’s since 1997 and has held his most recent $11.37-an-hour post since July 2009. “I didn’t think it was enough to warrant layoffs, but apparently it is.”

Since December, Powell’s has offered Google eBooks for sale on its website. But [laid-off employee Sheila] Ashdown, a $16.92-an-hour marketing coordinator at the Northwest Industrial warehouse, says the company cannot blame the layoffs simply on digitization of the book market. She says Powell’s lags in technology, such as placing e-book barcodes on the shelves so customers can buy digital manuscripts on the spot.

Read more at Willamette Week.

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