Publishing consolidation continues: Hachette buys Hyperion

Hachette has arranged a deal in which they will purchase Hyperion's book unit.
(Hachette; Hyperion Books)

The publishing industry got a little smaller Friday when Hachette announced its plans to buy Hyperion, the adult imprint owned by the Walt Disney Co. Disney, under Disney Publishing Worldwide, will retain its children’s books.

Hachette, formally known as Hachette Book Group, is one of six existing major publishers -- a number that will be reduced to five after the pending merger of Penguin with Random House. And that might drop to four if a rumored deal between Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins comes to fruition.

In that landscape, Hyperion was one of a handful of publishers that aren’t as big as the behemoths but can have equal reach. Hyperion, Norton, Wiley & Sons, Harlequin and the Perseus Books Group all fall within this tier of A-listers.

With Hyperion’s absorption into Hachette, it’s clear that the middle ground of publishing is shrinking. Agents will have one fewer publisher to pitch their clients to. Randy Pausch and Mitch Albom were among the writers who found a home at Hyperion.


Hyperion was founded in 1991 by Bob Miller. What was initially a generally independent publishing arm had in recent years become increasingly tied to Disney/ABC projects. The publishing titles directly tied to the company’s television properties, such as the mysteries by the character in “Castle,” will remain with Disney as well.

What Hachette will get are more than 1,000 titles that have been published by Hyperion over the years. “Hyperion’s strong nonfiction list in particular is a perfect complement to HBG’s title portfolio,” Hachette Chief Executive Michael Pietsch said in a statement.

The announcement also noted, “HBG will take on Hyperion’s extensive backlist, rich in the areas of inspiration, pop culture, cooking, humor, business, sports, history, self-help, fiction, and more, books that continue to sell year after year in a variety of formats and editions. The acquisition supports HBG’s overall strategic focus on growth and significantly expands the company’s backlist catalog and its nonfiction portfolio. HBG will also publish highly anticipated forthcoming books from award-winning journalist Joanne Lipman, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist J.R. Moehringer, actor Ethan Hawke, Don’t Know Much About series creator Kenneth Davis, and others.”

Agents hoping for competition will be dismayed by this consolidation, but it’s also bad news for those who work elsewhere in the publishing trenches.


“Some Hyperion employees are expected to join HBG in such areas as editorial and publicity,” Publishers Weekly reported. “Other Hyperion employees will be given the opportunity to interview for other positions at Disney.”


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