KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lean Times in Publishing

I've been in publishing 25 years, and this is the first time I've ever heard of publishers telling their acquisition editors not to buy books. Very scary times we're in.

An e-mail alert just issued by Publishers Weekly says that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has temporarily asked its acquisition editors to stop buying books:

It's been clear for months that it will be a not-so-merry holiday season for publishers, but at least one house has gone so far as to halt acquisitions. PW has learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books.

Josef Blumenfeld, v-p of communications for HMH, confirmed that the publisher has "temporarily stopped acquiring manuscripts." The directive was given verbally to a handful of executives and, according to Blumenfeld, is "not a permanent change." Blumenfeld, who hedged on when the ban might be lifted, said that the right project could still go in front of the editorial review board. He maintained that the decision is less about taking drastic measures than conducting good business. ...

While Blumenfeld dismissed the severity of the policy, a number of agents said they have never heard of a publisher going so far as to instruct its editors to stop acquiring. "I've been in the business a long time and at a couple of houses I worked at, when things were bad, we were asked to cut back," said agent Jonathon Lazear. "But I've never heard of anything so public." Lazear added that in the past two weeks, business has been more "sluggish" than it had been all year. ...


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Mary Beth said...

Oh, man. I hate to hear this.

libhom said...

Of course, if publishers don't buy new books, that will make the market for books even smaller. It seems that the publishers are digging themselves into a deeper hole than the one they are already in.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Nah, Libhom. It means that traditional publishing, as we know it, is imploding, just as traditional dead-tree newspapers are permanently folding under the onslaught of online news media. Read this.

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