Harpercollins has agreed to purchase the consumer publishing arm of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for $349 million. This would give them access to high-profile novels from authors such as George Orwell, Philip Roth and J.R.R. Tolkien. The sale would allow Boston-based Houghton to pay down debt and focus on its digital-first strategy in education.
The acquisition will include the business’s extensive children’s and young adult divisions, which publish such classics as: Curious George; Martha Speaks; Five Little Monkeys; The Polar Express; the Little Blue Truck series; Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel; The Little Prince; and Stellaluna. Works by young adult authors, including Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, are also a strong part of the HMH Books & Media catalogue. HMH Books & Media has a flourishing audiobooks business, launched in 2019, which is expected to add value to HarperCollins own large and growing audiobook revenue stream.
HarperCollins Publishers is the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world. In the most recent quarter, ending December 31, 2020, HarperCollins had strong revenue growth across every category, with revenues increasing $102 million, or 23%, compared to the prior year. Digital sales increased 15% compared to the prior year, driven by growth in both ebook and digital audiobook sales.
“There is a resurgence in reading and listening to books, and we believe the brilliant HMH Books & Media backlist and first-rate frontlist have an enduring and increasing value. Timeless writing is a timely source of revenue and the potential to create highly profitable audio and video works flourishes with each passing digital day,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp. “The HarperCollins collection will be bolstered for children and young adults, and authors around the world will have a larger platform for their creativity and ingenuity. It is crucial to expand in an era in which emerging monopolies threaten the creative marketplace, so we welcome J.R.R. Tolkien, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell and many, many other distinguished writers to HarperCollins.”
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.