The New York Times today has an interview today with Jeremy Dickens, president of Education Media and Publishing Group, the holding company that owns struggling publishing house Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In the interview Mr. Dickens reveals that lifting the temporary freeze on trade acquisition that was reported Monday by Publishers Weekly might be a matter of “if” and not “when,” and that the company would consider selling off its trade operation if the right offer was extended.
“We have plenty of titles in the pipeline that will be coming out next year and we will continue to evaluate opportunities if and when we decide to lift the freeze,” Mr. Dickens tells the piece’s author, Motoko Rich. “If there’s a transaction that makes sense for all of our stakeholders, we’ll consider it.”
Mr. Dickens said Education Media is $7 billion in debt and paying about $500 million annually in debt service. He said the company had plenty of money with which to pay that down, but that the trade publishing business—which according to The Times represents 5.5 percent of the company’s revenues—is not as high a priority as it once was.
The Times piece draws a comparison between the pitiful state of things at Houghton with the relative prosperity at French-owned Hachette Book Group, where employees not only are allowed to acquire books but also received bonuses this year.
You can read more on how Hachette, and its C.E.O. David Young, came to be clobbering their competition so thoroughly here.