Publishers Weekly reports that editors at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have been instructed to stop acquiring books until further notice. According to Josef Blumenfeld, the company’s VP for communications, the freeze is not permanent, though no date has been set for when it might lift. "In this case it’s a symbol of doing things smarter; it’s not an indicator of the end of literature," he is quoted as saying in the PW item. "We have turned off the spigot, but we have a very robust pipeline."
Whether or not the policy extends to books written by authors who already publish with HMH— or whether they’re all going to have to find new publishers once they finish the books they’ve already been paid for—is unclear.
Reached for comment, Mr. Blumenfeld said he wants to stress that HMH will continue acquiring "some" manuscripts, but that projects will be subject to more scrutiny than before. "We still have an acquisitions committee," he said. "They’re still considering manuscripts." Mr. Blumenfeld nevertheless referred to the new policy as a "freeze."
He said that "anything that’s already in the pipeline that’s already been contracted for or paid for will be published," he said. Asked whether writers like Philip Roth, who go under contract for one book at a time, will continue being published by HMH, Mr. Blumenfeld said he would check.
Before Media Mob managed to reach Mr. Blumenfeld, a receptionist at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Boston office said a power outage that happened earlier today had sent most employees home. "There’s no one in the building who can help you," the receptionist said.