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Old 11-25-2008, 04:44 PM   #1
Taylor514ce
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquisition freeze

According to a Wall Street Journal report by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will stop acquiring new books until further notice.

A spokesman said "We have a temporary freeze on... We are working on what we already have".

The article attributes the unusual and curious move to general industry slowdown in book buying, then gives figures for national book chains Barnes & Noble Inc and Borders Group Inc. Sales were down 2% in September and down 1.5% for the year.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:35 PM   #2
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Fascinating. A 2% sales drop and they cut off all their new models. They must be leveraged out the wazoo. I think the HarpersCollins e-book announcement is related. They also see a small drop, so they are madly trying to goose the only part of their business (e-books) that are rapidly growing....
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:41 PM   #3
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is laying off lots of employees as well. My wife works in the same building in Boston and she knows a few of the people who have been layed off. The problem is that a lot of the jobs that are being mare redundant are specialized and thus, hard to get a new job based on what it was you were doing there.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:47 PM   #4
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These are classic liquidity squeeze signs. In retail, you can usually tell when a retailer is about to fail when the highest turnover items in the shop suddenly go out of stock. They don't have the money/credit to buy the replacement stock.....
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Old 11-26-2008, 12:38 AM   #5
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why?

That doesn't make sense to me. Are they making so much money off their current titles that they don't need to aquire new ones?

Amy
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Old 11-26-2008, 08:58 AM   #6
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Well, if Ralph Sir Edward's analysis is correct, they are in a situation where most of the money they are making is already spoken for by royalties, unpaid but promised advances and other financial obligations. This is not an uncommon situation in many companies, but now a lot of companies are having a hard time getting credit which limits their ability to get new authors.

Of course, the ridiculous advances that many publishers have been paying lately might have something to do with it.

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Old 11-26-2008, 10:00 AM   #7
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Publisher's Weekly on the announcement.

A Crime Fiction Blogger's take on it, with further links.

Boston Globe article on their layoffs.

Small news snippets on Shelf Awareness.
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