Hachette to acquire Perseus' publishing arm, finally

Hachette will acquire Perseus' publishing arm, both publishers announced Tuesday. The deal is the culmination of an effort that started and was stopped in 2014 when details proved too complicated.

Now things have been simplified by separating Perseus' publishing business from its distribution business. Hachette will acquire only its publishing business.

In a release, Hachette Book Group Chief Executive Michael Pietsch explained that the deal would round out Hachette's offerings in nonfiction. "Their broad editorial vision and skill at reaching readers are impressive, and the opportunity to bring HBG’s proven sales and marketing skills to these books is exciting. This acquisition is a realization of Hachette’s continuing plans to grow and to expand our nonfiction and backlist publishing programs."

Hachette, whose major imprints include Little, Brown and Grand Central, will now also be the home of Perseus' PublicAffairs, Basic Books, Avalon Travel, Running Press, Seal Press, Da Capo Press, Basic Civitas, Da Capo Lifelong Books and Westview Press.

The action comes as the long tail of consolidation in the publishing industry that began during the 2008 recession. Companies streamlined, shed staffs and combined forces. In the most significant deal, Random House, the world's biggest publisher, merged with Penguin, the world's second-largest, forming a behemoth. The Big Six publishing companies slimmed down to a Big Five.

Hachette is among the smallest of the set, and the acquisition of Perseus is not expected to change that. However, if regulatory decisions allow the move to go forward, Perseus' 600 new books a year will be added to Hachette's current 1,200, increasing its output by half.

Perseus' president and chief executive, David Steinberger, has said that he will stay with the company through an expected sale of its distribution arm.

Pietsch has said that Perseus will become an imprint of Hachette and seemed to signal that layoffs were not planned. "We’re thrilled to welcome Perseus staff and authors to Hachette," Tuesday's statement began, "and are confident that it will be both an excellent complement to our publishing program and a great fit for the Perseus team."

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