March 3, 2016

Hachette acquires Perseus Books


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Michael Pietsch, chief executive of the Hachette Book Group. Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

In 2014, two years after the death of Perseus Books‘s founder Frank PearlHachette Book Group got most of the way through a deal to purchase Perseus in its entirety. Now, some eighteen months after the initial deal faltered, a new agreement to acquire just the publishing arm has been reached. According to Alexandra Alter at The New York Times, the acquisition adds nine new imprints to Hachette’s roster—and an impressive backlist of more than 6,000 titles.

David Steinberger, Perseus’s current and final CEO, had only positive things to say about the merger, calling Hachette “a great long-term home for Perseus.” Steinberger is set to leave the company following the sale; Susan Weinberg, Perseus’s current senior vice president and publisher, who is set to join Hachette’s executive leadership as vice president and publisher of the imprint Perseus Books.

Michael Pietsch, the chief executive of the Hachette, told The New York Times:

“It’s a great publishing program with a lot of diversity within it…Every publisher likes the idea of selling books for every kind of reader, and the Perseus lists are rich in areas where Hachette books in some cases doesn’t publish at all, like travel, and in other cases where we’d like to publish more, like public affairs, health and wellness, pop culture, illustrated books.”

In addition to expanding the publisher’s nonfiction presence, Perseus also gives Hachette a steadier foothold in the U.S. market, something the company has been working towards for years. The not-insignificant bump in revenue and visibility won’t hurt them either.

It’s hard to hear about such a consolidation and not be reminded of another publishing merger. It’s an old song; we all know the words. But although mega-corporations are practically the norm now, that doesn’t make them any friendlier. Pietsch says he won’t make any major changes, and aside from some office shuffling, that seems to be the case. But as Mike Shatzkin, the founder of Idea Logical Company and publishing industry analyst, told Alter: “If you take the long view, I’d be so bold as to say we’ll have two big trade publishers 10 years from now, and no more.”



Sarah Jacobson is an intern at Melville House.