Saturday, 18 July 2009

Borders buy-out, Penguin culling and MJ’s death causes breach of human rights

Just another week in the crazy world of publishing but it’s clear that many of the big houses are facing a tough financial outlook. The desperation is at times a little shameless such as the reaction of Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins and Headline show as they all adopt different tactics to be the first to shove any old tripe about MJ’s life and death into the bookstores. With some publishers even resorting to locking writers in rooms for 48 hours with nothing more than a case of coke (I believe it was the caramelised drink and not the famous Columbian marching powder) and orders not to see daylight until the manuscript is finished. Another publisher has turned the screws on two Chinese authors to deliver within the same timeframe. Obviously a quality read and a search for the truth are key elements here and not a single minded blood rush in the name of avarice.

Meanwhile over at Borders the US conglomerate has been keen to sell off its ugly sister, the UK arm of its business. The good news for UK readers is that the buy-out is being led by Channel 4 chairman, Luke Johnson, a man who turned around the failing Pizza empire Pizza Express in a similar deal. There is no denying that Borders may be an uphill battle but it is good news for the staff and 70 branches of the chain store.

Not such good news though for 100 people at Penguin who lost their jobs in a savage culling, which also saw the retirement of Helen Fraser, the managing director of Penguin UK. With many publishing houses refusing to change a business model that is based on waste while paying no attention to the environmental impact I dare say Penguin won’t be the to feel the pressures of the current economic recession.

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