From The Huffington Post:
So, the Hachette Book Group is acquiring the Perseus Books Group again, 18 months after its first failed attempt to do so. This time it looks like the deal will stick, though.
If you read industry news deals or press releases, you’ll see all kinds of positive spin on deals like these. This is the third major publishing merger in the past three-plus years, preceded by the 2013 merger between Penguin and Random House and the acquisition earlier that same year of Harlequin by HarperCollins. The companies like to talk about expanding their global reach and investing in broadening their lists. And while these corporate agendas sound good on paper, the consolidation of publishing is not good for authors.
Legacy book publishing is already an inflexible dinosaur. Big publishers throw ludicrous sums of money at celebrity projects and well-connected authors. The inequity between author advance monies and monies allocated to marketing campaigns can only leave you scratching your head as to why a company would acquire an asset only to underfund it once it becomes a product. And then there’s the flooding of the marketplace with as much inventory as they can get accounts to take despite the mutually understood but unspoken agreement that as much as 50 percent of those books will be returned. In fact, it’s a losing enterprise, and legacy publishers are the only publishers that can afford to keep this kind of business model afloat because of their strong backlists that keep a steady stream of income coming in to enable this crazy cycle.
Publishers having more money and more weight to throw around means that those authors at the top will keep getting their huge (and now maybe huger) advances, and that agents and editors will keep scouting for “big books,” which during my time as an editor for the Perseus Books Group meant “sure bets.” Sure bets come in the form of proven authors, authors with celebrity connections, and authors with huge existing author platforms.
. . . .
Houses breed cultures, of course. What workplace doesn’t? But within book publishing, consolidation means fewer decision-makers and fewer personalities. It means a mandate from the top to acquire only the most commercial works. Editors in New York are taught to look for a certain kind of book, and this leads to myopic thinking about what’s good, and even what’s publishable.
. . . .
If you are an aspiring author, every acquisition and merger of this type is another door being shut along your publishing journey. The barriers were already high, and with every consolidation, that barrier gets a little higher.
Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Mark for the tip.