WHEN Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, The New York Times reported that the new publishing group “will make up the biggest and most dominant publisher in the business, one that has unmatched leverage against Amazon. com and the potential to inspire other mergers in the industry”.
Now another two publishers are merging. Two years after a planned deal fell through, Hachette Book Group is purchasing the Perseus Books Group, bringing together two of America’s largest publishers.
The companies issued separate statements on Tuesday, announcing that Hachette had acquired Perseus’ publishing division, an extensive network of imprints that includes Basic Books, PublicAffairs and Running Press. The purchase, which Hachette expects to be completed by the end of the month, joins Hachette’s power in the fiction market with Perseus’ catalogue of thousands of nonfiction works.
Hachette publications range from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series to Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize- winning The Goldfinch to J. D. Salinger’s fiction, while Perseus’s books include Samantha Powers’ Pulitzer- winning A Problem From Hell and H. G. Bissingers’ Friday Night Lights. Perseus will operate as a division within Hachette, under the leadership of Perseus publisher and senior vice president Susan Weinberg.
“We are bringing over the Perseus staff as is,” Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch says. “Perseus has great publishing programmes that are managed really well. They will add to our revenue. They will add to our size and prestige. They are good for the top line and the bottom line.”
In 2014, Hachette and Perseus called off a complex, three- way transaction that would have had Hachette buying Perseus’ publishing and distribution divisions, then selling off the distribution arm. Perseus is still hoping to sell its distribution arm, which includes Consortium and Publishers Group West and works with many independent publishers.
Perseus CEO David Steinberger plans to stay with Perseus until it finds a buyer for its distribution service, then pursue other employment. He also will remain as board chairman for the US National Book Foundation, which oversees the National Book Awards and numerous educational programmes.
Hachette, which struggled for much of 2015 but had a strong fourth quarter, is owned by the French conglomerate Lagardere. Perseus is currently owned by Centre Lane Partners LLC, a New York- based private equity firm. – AP