The Bookseller has been acquired by the publisher of theatre magazine the Stage, in a move that will see the 162-year-old book trade newspaper join forces with the 140-year-old brand. Discussions between the two organisations started in autumn 2019 and the deal is effective immediately. Terms of the transaction were not made available.
It is only the third time The Bookseller has been sold since it was first launched in 1858, and marks the end of the ownership of the company by publisher and chief executive Nigel Roby, who acquired the business from Nielsen in 2010. Under Roby's tenure the magazine launched a series of industry-leading conferences including FutureBook, relaunched The British Book Awards, revitalised the magazine and grew its audience via initiatives such as the launch of Books In The Media, Jobs in Books and events website BookGig.
Roby said: "This is a bittersweet moment. Owning and running The Bookseller has been the greatest privilege of my working life. My overriding desire over the years has been to adapt and galvanise The Bookseller so it can continue its position at the heart of the book trade. To know that The Bookseller and the brilliant team behind it can go forward with confidence is profoundly heartening. I have put all of my care and energy into The Bookseller so leaving was never going to be easy. And it isn’t!"
The Stage, launched in 1880, has been owned and managed by the Comerford family since founding editor Charles Lionel Carson and business manager Maurice Comerford launched the trade paper. The current managing director, Hugh Comerford, is founder Maurice's great-grandson. In that respect, it has a similar history to The Bookseller, which before its sale to Nielsen in 1999 (then VNU Business Media), was owned and managed by the founding Whitaker family.
Both The Bookseller and the Stage will continue to be run independently, with senior executives from both reporting to Hugh Comerford. Roby will now step back, with The Bookseller editor Philip Jones, and director of publisher relations Emma Lowe set to join the executive management team of the Stage Media Co. From the autumn, The Bookseller will relocate to the Stage's office at 47 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XT.
Comerford said the strategic fit between the two operations, went well beyond the ability to share common services and best practice. He added: "The Bookseller and the Stage occupy very similar positions in two of our most important sectors. Bringing the two businesses together will make both of them stronger and give both companies a far better chance of enduring and thriving in the current, challenging environment than they would have done alone. Nigel has passed on The Bookseller and all its operations in robust good health and I am looking forward to building on his work.”
Roby can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.