Octopus buys indie Short Books in latest Hachette acquisition

Octopus buys indie Short Books in latest Hachette acquisition

Octopus Publishing Group has bought Short Books for an undisclosed sum, the latest in a series of successful indies to be snapped up by Hachette.

The acquisition of the non-fiction press, a member of the Independent Alliance which has seen huge sales in recent years from titles by diet guru Dr Michael Mosley, was agreed by shareholders on 31st May and officially announced today (Tuesday 4th June).

The transaction has been structured as a purchase by Octopus of a 100% shareholding in the business, which remains intact as a company. Publishers Rebecca Nicolson and Aurea Carpenter will continue in their roles and their staff of four will remain at the firm’s offices in Highbury, north London.

Ex-journalists Nicolson and Carpenter founded Short Books in 2001, going on to publish books including Change the World for a Fiver, Gyles Brandreth's The 7 Secrets of Happiness and The Social Animal by David Brooks as well as Andrea Gillies‘ Keeper, which won the Wellcome Book Prize and the Orwell Prize.

Short has become best known for health and diet publishing, with Mosley’s The Fast Diet, co-authored with Mimi Spencer, racking up sales of more than 2 million worldwide since it was published 2013. In the UK alone he has sold 1.65 million books in total for £8.3m, with The Fast Diet his bestseller, at 580,144 copies sold.

Mosley’s latest book The Fast 800 has already sold 152,955 copies since December 2018 and spent two weeks in the number one spot in January. Mosley’s diet books and a companion volume of recipes account for Short’s all-time top seven bestsellers according to Nielsen data.

A “thrilled” Nicolson said they had been approached by several larger companies in recent years but had always hesitated until Octopus came knocking. She said: “While sales have grown exponentially in the past decade – with big thanks to the Faber sales team – we have tried to remain small and fleet of foot, always determined to preserve our independent spirit and the energy and innovative environment that makes this a special place to work.

“But when we met Alison Goff of Octopus, we swiftly realised we had met the right partner to push us further. Aurea and I are thrilled to be joining Octopus. We admire Hachette’s ethos and commitment to diverse, broad-based quality publishing. And we know that our brilliant authors and fantastic staff will all thrive with Hachette’s engine behind us.”

Octopus Publishing Group c.e.o. Goff said: “I am a huge fan of the smart, creative publishing which Rebecca and Aurea deliver. They’re quick to spot trends and work with expert authors to bring highly topical books to the market at incredible speed. It’s a winning formula and I am enormously excited by the opportunity to work with them to grow this business further internationally.”

The acquisition by Hachette follows a number of similar recent moves for indies, with Bookouture, Jessica Kingsley Publishers and Summersdale all being added to the firm’s growing stable in 2017.

Hachette UK c.e.o. David Shelley said: “For a long time I have admired Rebecca and Aurea’s entrepreneurialism, market awareness and feel for the zeitgeist. I am thrilled that they will be joining us at this exciting point in Octopus’s evolution and I think that everyone at Hachette UK will learn a huge amount from their tremendous publishing style and flair.”