Hodder and Quercus a 'good fit'

Hodder and Quercus a 'good fit'

Hodder’s purchase of Quercus has been hailed as a “good fit” by the trade, but concerns have been raised over possible redundancies and the loss of another independent publisher.

Hachette UK announced this morning (25th March) that Hodder was purchasing Quercus, the publisher of books including Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.

The announcement ends weeks of feverish speculation about who would buy the company after Quercus put itself up for sale in January, a week after announcing it was expecting a “significant trading loss” for 2013.

Andrew Franklin, m.d. of Profile, told The Bookseller: “I am very relieved that Quercus has found a safe home. They were staring into the abyss. I think this is the best they could hope for, and I think it’s a good fit." He added: "There will of course be redundancies, there have to be. But it’s the best possible thing for authors and for the staff who don’t lose their jobs.”

Jonny Geller, joint c.e.o. of Curtis Brown, said the combination of Hodder and Quercus did "seem to make sense." He said: “I am pleased that the authors will have a new home within an established big publisher. I am excited for them and I think it is a very positive thing. We didn’t want to see a major publisher in trouble and it [Hodder] seems like a safe port.” Agent Piers Blofeld of Sheil Land Associates said: “I am very pleased for Quercus that they have found a buyer, although I’m obviously saddened that we have lost another independent publisher. How it’s all going to shake out we don’t know.” Luigi Bonomi of LBA Associates noted: “My big fear was that Quercus was going to go under and people were going to lose their jobs."

James Daunt, m.d of Waterstones, joined the commentators who agreed that Quercus was a “good fit” for Hodder. He added that he would “never bet” against the success of a MacLehose Press title and those books generally performed very well through his stores.

On the subject of another independent publisher joining a multinational group, Daunt said: “There does seem to be an added impetus for Hachette to acquire after the merger of Penguin Random House. The question is whether they can keep that up. From a retailer perspective – we need publishers to produce bestsellers for us. Publishing is about marketing. If they are part of a big company they can probably do that bigger and better. If you are a smaller publisher and you take a risk and it doesn’t pay off, the consequences are greater and tougher. We hope that the big guys will continue to take risks, but it is probably becoming harder for the small and medium sized guys to do that.”  

Other retailers are understood to have privately expressed relief that the publisher had not been purchased by Amazon Publishing, as was at one point rumoured.

Clare Harington, group communications director for Hachette, said the company was not permitted to comment further on the buy, which will not be completed until May, beyond its initial announcement.