Andrew AlbaneseWhen the pink slip comes, often the green follows. Certainly, severance packages are a very welcome way to soften the sting of a layoff. But stockholders of some of the industry’s top publishing houses might want to ask exactly what all the generosity is buying for them.

“We have looked at the SEC filings of the few publicly-traded companies, and what we found was millions in severance packages being paid out,” reports Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “Wiley, for example, has paid out some $19.7 million in severance in 2013, and another $25.9 million in severance in fiscal 2014, according to its 10-K filing for the year ended April 30, 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt took severance charges of $10 million in 2013, following charges of $9.4 million in 2012.”

Apparently, layoff across the industry don’t always result in lower headcounts. “Scholastic recorded severance expenses of $11.3 million, even as it grew by about 100 employees between fiscal 2013 and 2014,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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