Breaking: Viz Media lays off 60 employees [Updated]

Top-selling manga publisher Viz Media today announced the layoffs of as many as 60 employees and the closing of its New York City branch, Publishers Weekly reports.

The staff cuts -- 55 from its San Francisco headquarters and five from the New York office -- represent about 40 percent of the company's workforce.

In a statement today to PW, the publisher acknowledged it is "restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities."

Viz, which publishes such hits as Naruto, One Piece and Fullmetal Alchemist, had appeared to weather the worst of the economic and market declines that led to a major restructuring of rival Tokyopop in 2008 and the closing of several smaller manga publishers.Viz previously laid off a reported 12 to 15 people in February 2009.

Update (May 12): Evelyn Dubocq, Viz's senior director of public relations, revealed this morning on Twitter that she has been laid off after seven years with the company. "It's so odd waking up on a work day having no place to go," she wrote.

Update 2 (May 12): Viz Media has released a statement about the restructuring:

VIZ Media is in the process of refining its focus and is restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities.

As part of the restructuring the company had to refine its workforce by eliminating certain positions and making cuts in other areas.

We are of course saddened by these departures, and sincerely appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication of those that have moved on, but we feel confident that with these changes VIZ Media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time.

This restructuring was not insignificant; however, this was primarily an internal reprioritization to build toward our future. We wish to apologize to our wonderful fans if this news has caused you concern. Be assured VIZ Media remains committed in its obligations to you. We have no plans at this time for drastic measures such as product cancellations or business line closures. Your favorite series are not going away.

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