News

Earthscan acquired by Taylor & Francis

Environmental publisher Earthscan has been bought by international academic publishing group Taylor & Francis following a process brokered by mergers and acquisitions specialists Bertolli Mitchell.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was completed on Monday [31st January] and was completed from funds from existing facilities.

Earthscan's principal owner and executive chairman, Edward Milford, will step down from the business after a three month transition period. Taylor and Francis c.e.o. Roger Horton said: "That is part of the process of deciding where to go next." He said it was as yet "too early" to comment on whether Earthscan's more than 30 employees would be moving to new premises, or if any job losses would happen.

He said: "It is too early to say what we are going to do with it, the deal having just been signed. We are going to have to have full and proper discussions with both Taylor & Francis and Earthscan staff before making any final decisions."

On plans for the publisher, he added: "We haven't bought it because we wanted to change everything, we bought it because we understand the value of it. It is a very happy union of where they are now and where we want to go in the future, in terms of the publishing areas."

Earthscan m.d. Jonathan Sinclair Wilson said: "From our side the logic of the move was dictated by the rapidly increasing importance of the area in which we publish. Although we've been doing well and growing fast, we've come to realise that our size and even our independence were not adequate to the scale of the publishing opportunity, and challenge, in the sustainability space.

"We need more muscle and more reach, and in our discussions with T&F we found both a recognition of the potential and the prospect that the publishing would being given the resources it needs to make the most of that potential."

Sinclair Wilson will be continuing in his post "at the moment", but will be stepping down "after the transition of the business to the new owners is complete".

Environment and sustainability specialist Earthscan was named independent publisher of the year at the IPA awards in 2010, with judges calling the publisher "solid, reliable and consistently successful" and "a yardstick by which all independents might measure themselves."

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T&F haven't acquired Earthscan. They have bought the name and the backlist, but as of this point Earthscan no longer exists.

A sad day for the health of independent publishing.

Earthscan's employees and authors have a great deal to look back on and be proud of. Congratulations to TNF ceo for getting such a delighting deal.

Well done T&F. Well done. In case you didn't realise before this 'acquisition', Earthscan was a company in which the staff worked for something they believed in and for each other. The wonderful entity that was Earthscan, in all its quirky glory, is now in its death throes and you will be inheriting the publishing equivalent of a dessicated corpse. Love to all staff, past and present, who came along for the ride - it's been incredible. RIP Earthscan.

Dear Bookseller, why have you removed the first comment to this article? It was an honest opinion. What happened to freedom of speech?

What a huge mistake by all parties involved. The end of Earthscan and the swallowing up of yet another successful and unique independent publisher.

I understand the Earthscan backlist includes the Lovins title Small is Profitable. Oh the irony.

Well done T&F. Well done. In case you didn't realise before this 'acquisition', Earthscan was a company in which the staff worked for something they believed in and for each other. The wonderful entity that was Earthscan, in all its quirky glory, is now in its death throes and you will be inheriting the publishing equivalent of a desiccated corpse. Love to all staff, past and present, who came along for the ride - it's been incredible. RIP Earthscan.

Where is that first comment, it wasn't rude or offensive!

Why have comments been removed when they do not contain swearing or libellous opinions? Bookseller - you should be ashamed.

Earthscan is about more than publishing, its a vital ingredient in the movement towards sustainability. Its independence has allowed it to acheive what it has, allowing creativity and innovation to thrive to build a community around its values. It would be a tragedy if T & F do not recognise what they have acquired.

Morning all, the new comments facility removes comments when they are flagged as unsuitable, and though we are trying to change this, it can take some time before comments are reinstated. Apologies. We'll continue to remove comments as and when it is necessary, and under the usual conditions.

The sustainable sector opportunities are growing at an insustainable rate for the sustainable sector publishing companies...

...rather big corporations working hard to take advantage of that growing market in their own way and accepting that other smaller publishers can offer something unique and still occupy part of that space, it definitely makes more sense to buy the biggest potential competitor in that area, dismantle it, and remove the human element behind what made it a success in the first place.

I don't think that people who use words like insustainable will get this level of sarcasm.

hear, hear!

RE the first post, apologies for the 'in/un' typo but it was meant to be ironic. The whole idea of applying free market economics to a sector interested in sustainability is, surely, obviously ironic. Even more obvious than your sarcasm, surely...

Harnessing the power of free market economics may be the only way to develop a sustainable world. How that is achieved is another matter, and diversity within a capitalist framework is essential.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the dedication of the staff to the cause of sustainability, has been of fundamental importance in the success of Earthscan.

A heartfelt plea to T&F - please do not throw away this opportunity to strengthen the purpose of Earthscan, in the rush to exploit a business opportunity.

We have seen too much 'green-wash' in the past from other companies and you cannot buy integrity.

Good luck for the future to all the staff at Earthscan.

Tragic for the future of independent publishing that this gem of a company that was 'doing well and growing fast' should feel the need to sell out. A sad day.

Erm, what's Thames & Hudson got to do with it?

"Thames & Hudson c.e.o. Roger Horton said .."

Apparently they managed to make the purchase on a future fictional date "Monday [31st February]"

T&F haven't acquired Earthscan. They have bought the name and the backlist, but as of this point Earthscan no longer exists.

A sad day for the health of independent publishing.

Earthscan's employees and authors have a great deal to look back on and be proud of. Congratulations to TNF ceo for getting such a delighting deal.

Well done T&F. Well done. In case you didn't realise before this 'acquisition', Earthscan was a company in which the staff worked for something they believed in and for each other. The wonderful entity that was Earthscan, in all its quirky glory, is now in its death throes and you will be inheriting the publishing equivalent of a dessicated corpse. Love to all staff, past and present, who came along for the ride - it's been incredible. RIP Earthscan.

Dear Bookseller, why have you removed the first comment to this article? It was an honest opinion. What happened to freedom of speech?

What a huge mistake by all parties involved. The end of Earthscan and the swallowing up of yet another successful and unique independent publisher.

I understand the Earthscan backlist includes the Lovins title Small is Profitable. Oh the irony.

Well done T&F. Well done. In case you didn't realise before this 'acquisition', Earthscan was a company in which the staff worked for something they believed in and for each other. The wonderful entity that was Earthscan, in all its quirky glory, is now in its death throes and you will be inheriting the publishing equivalent of a desiccated corpse. Love to all staff, past and present, who came along for the ride - it's been incredible. RIP Earthscan.

hear, hear!

Where is that first comment, it wasn't rude or offensive!

Why have comments been removed when they do not contain swearing or libellous opinions? Bookseller - you should be ashamed.

Earthscan is about more than publishing, its a vital ingredient in the movement towards sustainability. Its independence has allowed it to acheive what it has, allowing creativity and innovation to thrive to build a community around its values. It would be a tragedy if T & F do not recognise what they have acquired.

Morning all, the new comments facility removes comments when they are flagged as unsuitable, and though we are trying to change this, it can take some time before comments are reinstated. Apologies. We'll continue to remove comments as and when it is necessary, and under the usual conditions.

The sustainable sector opportunities are growing at an insustainable rate for the sustainable sector publishing companies...

...rather big corporations working hard to take advantage of that growing market in their own way and accepting that other smaller publishers can offer something unique and still occupy part of that space, it definitely makes more sense to buy the biggest potential competitor in that area, dismantle it, and remove the human element behind what made it a success in the first place.

I don't think that people who use words like insustainable will get this level of sarcasm.

RE the first post, apologies for the 'in/un' typo but it was meant to be ironic. The whole idea of applying free market economics to a sector interested in sustainability is, surely, obviously ironic. Even more obvious than your sarcasm, surely...

Harnessing the power of free market economics may be the only way to develop a sustainable world. How that is achieved is another matter, and diversity within a capitalist framework is essential.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the dedication of the staff to the cause of sustainability, has been of fundamental importance in the success of Earthscan.

A heartfelt plea to T&F - please do not throw away this opportunity to strengthen the purpose of Earthscan, in the rush to exploit a business opportunity.

We have seen too much 'green-wash' in the past from other companies and you cannot buy integrity.

Good luck for the future to all the staff at Earthscan.

Tragic for the future of independent publishing that this gem of a company that was 'doing well and growing fast' should feel the need to sell out. A sad day.

Erm, what's Thames & Hudson got to do with it?

"Thames & Hudson c.e.o. Roger Horton said .."

Apparently they managed to make the purchase on a future fictional date "Monday [31st February]"

You know the publishing industry - not know for attention to detail.

You know the publishing industry - not known for attention to detail.

This doesn't really say anything of any substance about why the sale went ahead. If anything Earthscan were very well placed to weather the digital storm, having produced ebooks and online journals for many years, and at least one app. Maybe the shareholders wanted to realise some of their investment.

I'm sorry to see them being embraced by a larger company. However, there are still a few of us independents (including some other green publishers) left standing. Small is still beautiful.

This doesn't really say anything of any substance about why the sale went ahead. If anything Earthscan were very well placed to weather the digital storm, having produced ebooks and online journals for many years, and at least one app. Maybe the shareholders wanted to realise some of their investment.

I'm sorry to see them being embraced by a larger company. However, there are still a few of us independents (including some other green publishers) left standing. Small is still beautiful.

It would be interesting to know who approached who in this deal...

What is it exactly that is in danger of being lost in this acquisition? And can it survive despite the changes?

The loss of Earthscan staff and authors would presumably mean all that will survive is a brand and a backlist...

What is in danger of being lost is the integrity the company has. Many of their staff are engaged in other climate change/development organizations and have a geniune desire to affect change, this comes through in their communications. If T&F were to lose these people then this communication for change would cease and Earthscan would simply become the green imprint of T&F.

Authors are concerned that as Taylor & Francis is more corporate, their criteria for evaluating new books will probably mean that many of the more radical titles (e.g. on green economics) that would have been published by Earthscan will not be published by them.

I am deeply disappointed by the sale of Earthscan to T&F. As an author I find it hard to accept that my work can be transferred to new ownership without my having any say in the matter. For me, the appeal of Earthscan was the independence, the human scale and the personal service. I know from experience that these characteristics will not be found in the global corporate that is T&F. Earthscan holds the space for high-quality, independent, academic work relating to sustainability. There just isn't anybody else and so I can only assume that, when we need it most, this work will no longer be published.

I suppose I should keep my nose out of this, as we are are also in the field of environmental publishing, albeit in a different area (publishing mostly for the general reader as opposed to the academic & professional market), but I can't restrain myself.

The whole thing really doesn't add up. What's the point of carefully building up over many years a very successful independent company which has a unique niche and is clearly deeply appreciated by readers, authors and staff . . . and then selling to a large conglomerate, with the chairman, managing director and probably most of the staff losing their jobs? Why on earth would this be done?

There is only one possible reason: money. I have always had friendly relations with Edward Milford and Jonathan Sinclair-Wilson, but the reasons for the sale as given in the article above are totally inadequate. I just don't believe that 'Earthscan', whatever that will mean in a couple of years' time, will ever be regarded in the same way by authors, staff and readers. I would like to believe otherwise, but it really is a very sad situation, and it seems that principles have been sacrificed to profit. If Edward or Jonathan can give a more convincing explanation, let's hear it.

Does anybody know roughly how much was paid by T&F to acquire Earthscan?