Media company's restructuring that includes 21 local layoffs blamed on 'economic malaise'

O'Reilly Media laid off 30 employees on Thursday in a restructuring effort intended to help the influential Sebastopol tech publisher weather the economic downturn.

"We're being hit by the economic malaise," said Sara Winge, a spokeswoman for the company.

The layoffs included 21 employees at its Sebastopol headquarters. The rest were staff from its Cambridge, Mass., office and remote workers. The cuts affected almost 14 percent the company's 222 employees.

O'Reilly Media made a name for itself as a publisher of high-tech books and an early advocate of the Internet.

Its 1992 book "The Whole Internet User's Guide," was named one of the most significant books of the 20th century by the New York Public Library. In 1993, it created the world's first commercial Web site, Global Network Navigator, which it later sold to AOL.

More recently, it expanded its operations to include online publishing, conferences and its traditional print publishing business. Those three areas comprised the bulk of its about $70 million in revenue in 2007.

The layoffs occurred throughout the company's divisions, and in the midst of an economic recession hitting both technology and publishing companies, Winge said.

Just this week, for example, both tech giant Google and book retailer Barnes & Noble announced their first layoffs ever. Other publishing houses, including HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Random House and Simon & Schuster have frozen salaries or cut jobs, or both.

O'Reilly customers will not notice major changes to the company, Winge said.

On the social networking tool Twitter, people passed their condolences to O'Reilly employees.

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