Random House CEO Markus Dohle announced at the publisher’s Christmas party on Wednesday that he would award $5,000 bonuses to every member of his staff, from “top editors to warehouse workers,” reports the New York Times.
Random House employees have author E.L. James to thank — her erotic novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” sold more than 60 million copies and has spent 37 weeks (and counting) at the top of the New York Times’ paperback best-sellers’ list. That book, along with its two sequels and other hits like Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” and Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” pushed Random House to a particularly profitable year.
Bonuses are an elusive beast in the beleaguered publishing industry. As early as 2008, New York magazine was publishing reports on the industry with titles like “The End.” Things haven’t improved much since then: In November, HarperCollins laid off 200 people, Businessweek reports, and Lagardère, the parent company of publisher Hachette, announced that revenues were down 1.4 percent for the first nine months of 2012.
That could explain the Internet mania over this $5,000-bonus. Or it could have to do with the widespread derision many people feel toward the bondage-ridden “50 Shades of Grey,” which has 4,500 one-star reviews on Amazon and has been widely condemned as poorly written, anti-feminist, or some combination of the two.
In either case, at least one Random House employee is wondering when the hype will end (and, presumably, when she’ll get her check.)
“Really? Is this really news???” Ann Klingman, a Random House sales manager, tweeted this morning.