February 4, 2014

Little, Brown Book Group buys Constable & Robinson


Nicholas Robinson, founder of Constable & Robinson, with a falcon.

Nicholas Robinson, founder of Constable & Robinson, with a falcon. (He had a strong interest in field sports as well as publishing.)

In the year following its founder’s passing, Constable & Robinson has been acquired by Little, Brown Publishing Group. The company will be a “distinct division” of Little, Brown, and will continue to operate from its offices in Russell Square.

Constable & Robinson consists of eight imprints, and publishes authors such as MC Beaton, Jennifer Egan, and Joan Collins. The backlist includes George Bernard Shaw and Bram Stoker. The publisher is known for fiction and nonfiction, especially its cognitive behavioral therapy self-help books, and its respected crime list. (Rob Nichols of C&R spoke with our own Dennis Johnson in a podcast, “The Great Amazon Debate,” during 2012.)

Nick Robinson, who passed away last August, founded the independent publishing company in 1983. In 1999, the company merged with Constable & Co., Britain’s oldest independent publisher. Constable & Robinson was named both Independent Publisher of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards and IPG Independent Publisher of the Year in 2012 and 2013. Little, Brown approached the publisher last year, and the shareholders have decided it is a “good fit,” signing over 100 percent of the shares on January 31.

The current chairman is Nova Jayne Robinson, Nick Robinson’s wife, who will leave the company to focus on several other business projects and to start a nonprofit called the Robinson Psychology Trust. The Robinson family are partial owners of the car site Honest John, which several news sources report note are not part of the Little, Brown acquisition.

Little, Brown Book Group already owns Virago, Orbit and Piatkus. The Bookseller asked whether Little, Brown would consider acquiring Quercus as well, but CEO Ursula Mackenzie said, “I think we are going to have enough on our plate.”


Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.