It’s another sad day in publishing, as a major independent force sells out to one of the big companies responsible for the decline of new talent in the book world.
Hachette UK has acquired independent e-book publisher Bookouture. All 16 staff will remain with the company, which will also retain offices in London’s King’s Cross.
Hachette UK chief executive Tim Hely Hutchinson hailed the acquisition as a “landmark event” for two “ambitious” companies. He said Bookouture “probably knows more about selling e-books than any other publisher in the world” and would continue to operate as a standalone business within Hachette. The businesses will pool their expertise to result in mutual growth, he added.
The move was perhaps inevitable. Bookoutre actively looked for new talent at a time when big publishing houses wanted only celebrity-backed titles or movie and TV tie-ins. It sold titles for 99p and offers authors a 45% royalty rate instead of an advance.
Hely Hutchinson claims the acquisition of Bookouture will not signal a move away from the agency model for Hachette, and that the Bookouture trading model would be “ring-fenced”.
Then he went in to admit prices would rise.
“We are experimenting more than ever before and this involves both raising and lowering prices to find the optimum point of revenue generation, which can vary literally from day-to-day in each of the market we serve.”
Founder Oliver Rhodes insisted the sell out will propel Bookouture to even more rapid growth.
“I am always looking at ways to improve the business, and, when I started talking with Hachette, its vision for the company is very much in line with mine, keeping all the things that have made us successful to date,” He told The Bookseller.
“In addition to that there is the opportunity to enhance the business. In particular, being able to add more value to our authors by exploring paperback editions for some of our most successful authors, which absolutely makes sense. I think also, as we try and grow the business, which we are trying to do very quickly, having the support of a parent company like Hachette with the back office infrastructure it has will really allow us to focus on publishing and on growing the business and I believe we will be able to do that at a quicker rate.”
A sad day indeed.