Early reactions to the news that Hachette is merging its three children’s businesses into one division have been positive, with many saying the move “makes sense”.
Yesterday (25th September) Hachette revealed it would merge Hachette Children’s Books, Orion Children’s Publishing and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers into one division, led by Hilary Murray Hill, currently m.d. at Egmont, as c.e.o.
Blackwell's trade books buyer Katharine Fry welcomed the news and said that one coherent children's group would mean fewer title clashes. “I think we will see more of it – this is just the way children's is going to go. It is not necessarily just about sales and marketing power, but it will help in planning too, so that key, similar, titles won't overlap.”
She added: “I think we are going to see more and more of it as the publishers in that area want to compete more and more with each other."
Melissa Cox, children’s buyer at Waterstones, said it made good sense for Hachette to unify children’s publishing. “There are some great people working at Hachette across all divisions and I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Hilary, I think she’ll do an excellent job of leading them into a new era.”
Meanwhile Catherine Clarke, agent and m.d. at Felicity Bryan Associates, said it was too early to say how things might change but she hoped the different groups could keep their distinctiveness.
“All the individual imprints have very clear strengths and I hope that those strengths can be encouraged and developed within the new integrated group,” she said. This was a sentiment echoed by Jasper Sutcliffe, head of buying at Foyles, who said: "The children's sector is a hugely important growth area for Foyles, our customers and indeed the book industry as a whole. The separate divisions of Hachette have always delivered very high standards of representation and publishing, so we hope that this quality will continue be maintained by the new combined division."
Competitor Adrian Soar, commercial director at independent publisher Nosy Crow, said the company "liked big publishers” and the move would be advantageous to his business “because we can compete with big groups more effectively”.
However independent literary scout Helen Boyle, said that she “wasn’t hugely surprised” by the move. “Why have just one giant children’s behemoth when you can have two?” she said. “I think Hilary Murray Hill is a great choice as c.e.o. but hope that the individual imprints can keep their creative autonomy and continue to work to their own individual strengths."
Author Lucy Coats added: “Big can be beautiful, let’s see what develops.”
Hachette will merge the three divisions on 1st January 2015. Atom however will remain an imprint of Little, Brown.
Marlene Johnson, c.e.o of Hachette Children’s Books, will retire at the end of 2014 after 40 years in publishing.
Hachette said the move aimed to develop “new strengths in children’s publishing” and there would be no redundancies as a result of the division’s creation.