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Posts Tagged ‘Houghton Mifflin’

Temporary Head for Houghton Mifflin’s Trade Division

Publishers Marketplace reports this morning that Gary Gentel has been promoted to interim president of Houghton Mifflin‘s Trade and Reference Division, effective immediately. Gentel moves up from corporate vp, director of sales, a position he’s held the last four years. HM CEO Tony Lucki told employees today that “Gary will lead the division’s strategic direction with the support of the trade and reference management team, who will report directly to him. He will also be an instrumental part of planning the integration of Harcourt Trade with Houghton Mifflin Trade and Reference.”

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Riverdeep, Mergers High

The New York Times rightfully wonders just who on earth is this Barry O’Callaghan guy and why he’s not only bought up Houghton Mifflin but now Harcourt Education, thereby turning a small Irish software company into a giant American textbook publisher. Until last year, writes Eric Pfanner, Riverdeep was a relatively small software company, best known for educational programs like Reader Rabbit. If the Harcourt acquisition is completed, the company would vault past McGraw-Hill and Pearson to become the biggest textbook publisher in the United States.

So how did that happen, especially as Wolters Kluwer, Pearson and Reed have been involved in high-profile acquisitions and sales of their own? Analysts say private equity has been attracted to the educational business by steady cash flows, a relative lack of competition and expectations that spending will increase in the coming years as states like California step up textbook replacement programs – but big companies are anxious to sell because educational publishing has lagged behind areas like medical, legal and scientific publishing in the shift to digital distribution.

In comes a company like Riverdeep, where O’Callaghan sees an opportunity to bring into the future an industry long dominated by a handful of big players. “The idea of marrying content with technology holds strategic appeal,” said Drew Crum, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus in Cleveland. But as the Sunday Business Post reports on what may prove to be the merger’s biggest stumbling block: although valued at $11 billion, the enlarged company has debts of $7.4 billion, according to analysts, and company president Jeremy Dickens admitted there would be an annual interest bill of $400 million. Hence the 11.8 percent stake in HM Riverdeep by Reed to inject some degree of stability. The question is, how far and how long?

Changes at Penguin Press

Publishers Marketplace reports this morning that Eamon Dolan will move from Houghton Mifflin to Penguin Press as vp, editor-in-chief, as of July 9. At HM, Dolan acquired titles by Eric Schlosser, Stefan Fatsis, Nathaniel Fick, Richard Dawkins, and Jerome Groopman, among many others. Current Penguin Press Editor-in-chief Scott Moyers is moving to The Wylie Agency as a director.

Hurin Follows in Tolkien’s Bestselling Footsteps

Should any of us be surprised that the “lost” J.R.R. Tolkien novel THE CHILDREN OF HURIN (edited by his son Christopher Tolkien) is selling like gangbusters since its worldwide release on April 17th? Certainly, as the AP reports, not Houghton Mifflin, celebrating the news that more than 900,000 copies are in print worldwide – nearly double the original total printed.

The new book, a prequel to Tolkien’s mega-selling epic THE LORD OF THE RINGS, was started by Tolkien in 1918 but eventually abandoned. The author died in 1973, and his son spent the next 30 years working on the manuscript. Excerpts from HURIN, which includes the elves and dwarves of Tolkien’s other works, had been published over the years, but there was never a single narrative until this spring. And now that there is one, it’s topping numerous best-seller lists and Houghton Mifflin has increased its printing from 250,000 to 550,000. In Britain, copies in print have been raised from 250,000 to 360,000 by publisher HarperCollins. How that translates into real (or even Bookscan) numbers is another story, but one that won’t change things by all that much…

Riverdeep Cuts Interest Bill

The Irish Independent reports that Riverdeep has managed to refinance almost half of a $1.07 billion bridging facility taken out following the company’s $3.5 billion reverse takeover of US educational publisher Houghton Mifflin last year. The paper says initial plans to refinance $250m – or a quarter – of the facility were put on ice earlier this year following the resignation of the company’s auditor, Ernst & Young. “The refinancing will shave $10m a year from the company’s interest bill,” the paper quotes a spokeswoman for the company as saying. But, the refinancing has prompted Moody’s to downgrade its senior secured ratings for Riverdeep’s debt down one level to B1.

Pulitzer Prize Winners

The Pulitzer Prize has announced its winners in a variety of categories, and while our Fishbowl siblings will be dissecting the journalism winners, we’ll look at the book-related winners:

FICTION: Cormac McCarthy, THE ROAD (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: AFTER THIS by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and THE ECHO MAKER by Richard Powers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • HISTORY: Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, THE RACE BEAT (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005″ by James T. Campbell (The Penguin Press), and “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking).
  • BIOGRAPHY: Debby Applegate, THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN AMERICA (Doubleday)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty” by Arthur H. Cash (Yale University Press), and “Andrew Carnegie” by David Nasaw (The Penguin Press).
  • GENERAL NONFICTION: Lawrence Wright, THE LOOMING TOWER (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness” by Pete Earley (Putnam), and “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” by Thomas E. Ricks (The Penguin Press).
  • POETRY: Natasha Trethewey, NATIVE GUARD (Houghton Mifflin)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “The Republic of Poetry” by Martin Espada (W.W. Norton), and “Interrogation Palace: New & Selected Poems 1982-2004″ by David Wojahn (University of Pittsburgh Press).
  • The upshot is that some of the smaller university presses should be proud, the big winners were Knopf, FSG and the Penguin Press – and about the only prize Cormac McCarthy hasn’t earned is beatification, but who knows, that may follow in due course…

    New Division for Houghton Mifflin

    Houghton Mifflin announced this week that the company has launched a new division – the result of the Boston-based publisher’s acquisition last year by Irish company HM Rivergroup – to provide integrated learning tools. The new division, called Houghton Mifflin Learning Technology, will develop and deliver interactive pre-K-12 solutions that are curriculum-based in all subject areas, the company said in a statement.

    Ernst & Young Quits as Riverdeep Auditor

    Brokerage firm Ernst & Young resigned last week as auditors of Riverdeep, the private equity company that recently bought out Houghton Mifflin (and is rumored to be in the running to buy Reed Elsevier). The move may hamper progress on buyouts and in securing further loans to manage additional mergers. “As a result of incorrect representations made to us by the Company’s parent in respect of a material contract, the professional relationship between us and the Company has irretrievably broken down and we have concluded that we cannot continue to act as the Company’s auditors,” Ernst & Young said in a statement.

    As a result, Moody’s Investors Service said on Thursday it might cut the ratings on a $1.62 billion senior secured term loan, and withdrew its rating on a $250 million add-on to that loan as the company has decided to postpone the increase.

    Reed To Sell Harcourt Education Arm

    Continuing a theme of “anything is for sale,” Reed Elsevier, mirroring moves by major Dutch and U.S. rivals, said it would sell its education arm as it focuses on faster-growing markets such as legal, medical and scientific electronic publishing. Analyst estimates suggested the sale of Harcourt Education could fetch between 1.6 billion and 2.4 billion pounds ($3.2-$4.7 billion). The Telegraph reports that Sir Crispin Davis, chief executive of business publisher Reed Elsevier, expects strong interest from private equity bidders, and indeed, one such bidder – Irish entrepreneur Barry O’Callaghan, who as CEO of Riverdeep already bought out Houghton Mifflin earlier this year – has expressed interest, according to Forbes.

    Alastair Osborne sees the larger theme of companies exiting the education business in droves, and comes up with some reasons, including the No Child Left Behind Act and students’ increasing reliance on web-based materials. Such companies, Osborne says, are left with a “stark choice: invest in technology and systems that power interaction between their content and the network (such as school planning, administration and assessment) or exit the business now while valuations remain attractive.

    The Story Prize Names its Finalists

    Fiction collections by authors Mary Gordon, Rick Bass and George Saunders have been named finalists for the third annual Story Prize, given to the year’s outstanding book of short fiction. Bass was nominated for THE LIVES OF ROCKS (Houghton Mifflin), Gordon for THE STORIES OF MARY GORDON (Pantheon) and Saunders for IN PERSUASION NATION (Riverhead.) The winner, to be announced at an awards ceremony at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium on February 28, receives $20,000. Finalists will each be given $5,000.

    GalleyCat‘s own Ron Hogan was one of the three judges (along with author Edwidge Danticat and Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan) and has dipped into each of these collections, along with many other potential candidates, as they’ve been published over the last several months. “I’m looking forward to devoting a lot more time to these three authors in the following weeks,” Hogan said, “and I’m glad I’ve got two other well-informed judges to help make what will undoubtedly be a tough decision.”