Hachette Book Group buys Perseus Book Group's publishing division

NEW YORK, N.Y. – In a three-way deal that would continue a wave of consolidation in the publishing industry, Hachette Book Group has purchased the publishing division of the Perseus Book Group, while selling Perseus’ client-service business to leading distributor Ingram Content Group.

Hachette, where authors include James Patterson, J.K. Rowling and Malcolm Gladwell, jointly announced the transaction Tuesday with Perseus and Ingram. The news comes at a time when Hachette is in contentious negotiations with, which has slowed shipments, reduced discounts and removed pre-order buttons for numerous Hachette releases.

Perseus has a wide range of nonfiction imprints and has partnerships with The Daily Beast and The Weinstein Company, among others. Perseus books have included H.G. Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights” and Samantha Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Problem from Hell.”

“We’re proud and happy to welcome Perseus staff and authors to Hachette Book Group,” Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch said in a statement. “This exciting acquisition adds a new program of extraordinary diversity, vibrancy, and strength to HBG’s portfolio of publishers. It fits our strategic goals of growth and nonfiction expansion.”

The sale of Perseus had been rumoured since company founder Frank Pearl died in 2012. Besides releasing hundreds of books a year, Perseus has also been a top distributor for smaller publishers, with Publishers Group West and Consortium Book Sales & Distribution among its clients.

“As CEO, one of my most critical responsibilities is to forge the right future for our people, our authors, our books and our client publishers,” Perseus CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “We greatly admire Hachette and Ingram as two companies with deep and long-standing commitments to the world of publishing and the written word.”

Steinberger is stepping down after the completion of the sale, which is subject to government approval, but will serve as a consultant for Hachette “for a period.” The deal is expected to close by July 31.

Hachette’s acquisition of Perseus could increase its bargaining position with Amazon, which is reportedly seeking a larger cut of e-book sales and numerous other changes in contract terms.

Tuesday’s announcement also continues a series of mergers and purchases over the past two years, including the combining of Random House Inc. and Penguin Group (USA) and HarperCollins’ acquisition of the romance publisher Harlequin. Almost exactly one year ago, Disney sold more than 1,000 works published by Hyperion to Hachette, owned by the French conglomerate Lagardere.

Hachette, which reported a drop in sales during the first quarter of 2014, recently announced it was laying off about 3 per cent of its New York staff. Among those let go were Pat Strachan, Tom Wolfe’s longtime editor.