Little, Brown buys Constable & Robinson

Little, Brown buys Constable & Robinson

Little, Brown Book Group has bought independent publisher Constable & Robinson.

Constable & Robinson’s m.d. Pete Duncan will report to Little, Brown publisher David Shelley while chairman Nova Jayne Robinson – who took up the role last autumn following the death of former chair Nick Robinson [pictured above, with Nova] - will leave the company.  

C&R will continue for the moment trading from its current premises in Russell Square.

The company, which comprises of eight different trade imprints, will be a “distinct division” of Little, Brown Book Group. Authors on its lists include MC Beaton, Jennifer Egan, Joan Collins, Rosie Goodwin and Carl Rogers, as well as George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker and Sir Walter Scott. Motoring website Honest John is not part of the deal with Little, Brown Book Group, as it is privately owned, partially by the Robinson family.

Nova Jayne Robinson said C&R had been approached over the years by various companies, but when Little, Brown Book Group opened a conversation last year "it did give us pause for thought." She said: "The fit's rather good." Robinson added that there had been "lots of conversations" with Shelley, particularly over the future of C&R's psychology list and that she had been impressed with the "consideration over that".

Robinson said the company was “flattered but also mindful of the further development opportunities identified by the company”. She continued: “We needed to be sure the business could continue to flourish and retain its independence of spirit if it were to join a larger enterprise. We feel absolutely sure that this is the case.

“I am delighted that, in joining Little, Brown, Constable & Robinson will keep both its name and its personality intact. It is clear from conversations with David and Ursula in recent months that Little Brown’s publishing ethos and attitude towards books, authors and its team are closely aligned to ours.  

“Nick and I shared the view that we could not imagine a better home.”

Ursula Mackenzie, c.e.o. of Little, Brown Book Group said: “We are delighted to welcome Constable & Robinson to Little, Brown where it will flourish as a stand alone imprint, building its terrific reputation in fiction and specialist non-fiction publishing. Our lists are complementary and our publishing perspectives are completely aligned.

“Little, Brown’s success with Virago, Orbit and Piatkus is testament to our record of working with and developing highly respected publishing brands while retaining their distinct identities and we are looking forward enormously to playing our part in this new development for Constable & Robinson.”

Little, Brown Book Group said there “should be no disruption” for authors at Constable & Robinson, “and all arrangements with customers, freelancers, distribution partners, suppliers and other contacts of the house stand as they are at least until fully discussed with the parties concerned”.

Mackenzie said it was too early to say whether any changes would be made at Constable & Robinson, or whether there would be any redundancies in the future. She said: “The first thing we are intending to do is spend some time getting to know everyone. If there are areas of overlap we will be considerate and fair. We have the benefit of being part of a bigger group so they may find opportunities. The biggest thing you can do wrong is try and do things too quickly.”
Asked whether Little, Brown Book Group was also in the market to acquire Quercus, Mackenzie said: “I think we are going to have enough on our plate.”

Tim Hely Hutchinson, c.e.o. of Hachette UK said: “I admired Nick enormously and I am delighted that he and Nova decided that Little, Brown is the right home for Constable & Robinson. There is a great fit in our publishing and we are excited at the prospect of working with Constable & Robinson’s authors to continue building their sales and developing their profiles in the UK and internationally.”

Constable & Robinson Ltd was created by the merger of Robinson Publishing, founded by Nick Robinson in 1983, and of Constable & Co dating back to 1795.

C&R won the Independent Publisher of the Year award at the Bookseller Industry Awards in 2012, and the IPG Trade Publisher of the Year award in both 2012 and 2013.