Bloomsbury buys Oberon Books in £1.2m deal

Bloomsbury buys Oberon Books in £1.2m deal

Bloomsbury has bought London-based theatre publisher Oberon Books in a £1.2m deal, to become “the world’s leading international publisher in drama and the performing arts”.

Drama specialist Oberon, which generated £1m of revenue in the year ending 31st December 2018, will now operate from Bloomsbury's Academic & Professional division.

Based on London’s Caledonian Road, the company currently employs 11 people fulltime including publisher James Hogan, who is retiring but may stay on temporarily in an advisory role. Bloomsbury declined to comment on whether there would be staff changes or an office move after the buyout.

Bloomsbury said the acquisition was expected to break even in its first year, before reorganisation and acquisition costs. It is predicted to be earnings enhancing thereafter, contributing £0.1 million of revenue to Bloomsbury in the year ending 28th February 2020.

Jonathan Glasspool, m.d. of the Academic & Professional Division said: “We are delighted to become owners of the prestigious Oberon list. The Oberon programme aligns very well with our existing publishing within Methuen Drama. The Oberon list strengthens our offerings in contemporary theatre. With the combined lists of Oberon, Methuen Drama and The Arden Shakespeare, Bloomsbury is looking forward to developing and diversifying its position as the world’s leading international publisher in drama and the performing arts.”

Oberon was founded in 1985 by Hogan and has a backlist of more than 1,500 books, including a range of British drama dating back to the 1940s, European and world theatre translations and assorted classics. It has a range of other titles covering theatre, opera, dance, biography, performance studies, monologues, practical guides and fiction. 

Hogan said: “After 32 years it’s time to ensure that Oberon and its authors achieve a secure, lively home in the future. I’m truly delighted that Bloomsbury, the leader in drama publishing, is taking over to carry on the good work. 

“I’ve spent nearly half of my life building Oberon’s list and supporting new writers. It grew out of my work in a reading group at Riverside Studios in the early Eighties. I had little idea then that Oberon would flourish and become a major new force in the business. It’s been a fantastic job working with so many brilliant authors and agents for so long.”

The acquisition comes as Bloomsbury marks 60 years of Methuen Drama’s Modern Plays and the January publication of Measure for Measure, the final play in its Arden Shakespeare Third series.