The planned acquisition of Perseus Books Group by Hachette and Ingram has collapsed. The deal, which was announced in June, would have seen Perseus’ publishing imprints go to Hachette and its distribution business go to Ingram. Hachette, currently entangled in a long and very public battle with Amazon, relies heavily on fiction bestsellers. Perseus would have added a strong nonfiction backlist.
Until the end of July, Perseus had been working primarily with Hachette. However, talks became more complicated when final discussions with Ingram heated up. Although no one would comment on the particulars, Perseus’s unique position in the book world could have made valuing the company difficult, especially the company’s distribution arm; there has not been a major sale of a distributor since the beginning of the digital book age.
The broken deal is hurting Hachette’s chances of expanding their business past frontlist fiction. Perseus had over 6,000 backlist titles that were non-fiction and Hachette stood to benefit by more diversification in their books. HBG parent Lagardere had told investors in a presentation in late May it was their intention to growth their nonfiction line, and expand HBG USA overall: “It is necessary to be a bigger player in the USA than in the UK in order to secure enough primary rights,” they had said, also noting, “Size is, and will continue to be, a critical asset in the forthcoming years in this market.”