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Thread: [Publisher] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (formerly Houghton Mifflin Co.)

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Jenisis's Avatar
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    [Publisher] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (formerly Houghton Mifflin Co.)

    Hello everyone,

    Do any of you have experience with this publisher and their spin-off, Kinsfisher? If you do, I have questions for you . Thank you
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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Due to various acquisitions, full name is now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade and Reference Publishing Group.
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  4. #4
    Shakespearean Fool DreamWeaver's Avatar
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    Houghton Mifflin was the original publisher for the American editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (and still publishes all the hardcover editions, IIRC), which is a pretty impressive pedigree.
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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Bankruptcy/Restructuring (merged into thread in BR&BC)

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/201...for-bankruptcy

    Has this been posted elsewhere and I'm not seeing it? They publish the Amazon eBooks (Sorry, forget the name of the imprint right now?)

  6. #6
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    This is quite worrying considering they're a major publishing company.

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    I was amazed by the level of debt. Holy batman, that's a lot of debt for a publisher to have on the books!

    ETA: 2009, 10th worst company to work for in US ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/1..._n_397565.html ) -- A non-scientific poll.
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    So, what does this mean for their authors? Good? Bad? Somewhere in between?

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    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Very bad. IANAL, but it's a drawn-out process that could possibly involve the authors' rights being sold to a creditor. A bankruptcy court could see the rights as assets and have them sold to help pay off HMH's debt. It's not automatic, as Chapter 11 in the US allows them to continue operating while restructuring their load.
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  10. #10
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    This is kind of a shock, and kind of not. Houghton Mifflin nearly went into bankruptcy two years ago. They dodged it that time by restructuring their debts. That's not something you can keep doing indefinitely.

    The real problem is that they're on the wrong side of some major market shifts. HM's trade titles are the tip of the iceberg. Their real strength has always been in elementary and high school textbooks and instructional materials. That used to be a stable market. But public school budgets have been scraped to the bone for years now, and they've gotten worse since the economy collapsed, so school districts have cut way back on new book purchases. That's probably the big reason HM has bled out.

    Their trade list hasn't been doing well either. Straw in the wind: Houghton Mifflin is not one of the publishers that have been pushing back against Amazon's ebook pricing schemes. Lord of the Rings was for decades a staple of HM's hardcover and trade paper backlist. The Kindle edition of LOTR, all 1178 pages of it, sells for $9.99. That's not enough to bring down the house, but it hurts. It's not healthy.

    I'm not an expert. I don't know who's in charge of overall marketing strategy at HM, or what kind of operating constraints they work with. Still, it feels like watching someone who's concentrating as hard as they can on picking the walnut that has the pea under it, when they should be figuring out that they're in an unwinnable game.

    For instance, in January of this year, HM entered into an agreement with Amazon to publish hardcopy editions of Amazon's high-prestige Kindle-only titles. Everyone figured that was about circumventing Barnes & Noble's rule against selling titles in its brick-and-mortar stores that have ebook editions B&N can't sell on the Nook. Since HM doesn't publish the ebook editions, its editions aren't subject to B&N's automatic ban.

    What can you say, except "good luck with that, and drop me a line when you respawn." It's not like B&N wasn't going to notice. They could still decline to carry those titles on a case-by-case basis, and in the meantime, Houghton Mifflin had pissed them off. That's not a good position to be in.

    I'm not sure it would have been a good position in any event. Those titles are high prestige, but many of them aren't high-volume sellers. That's not a problem for Amazon, but it is for a conventional publisher that has to deal with overhead costs and economies of scale. The only benefit I can see is that it helps keep Amazon's big-name authors happy. They get to have a tangible edition in bookstores and on the brag shelf, published by an old and distinguished firm.

    Sorry. Getting into Inside Baseball territory here.

    I doubt HM will simply go out of business. There's too much value in its catalog. But its days of operating as a self-willed publisher may well be over.
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  11. #11
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    A thought just struck me: I wonder how many of those titles Amazon licensed to Houghton Mifflin have yet to be published? Ones that have gone into print will doubtless have some kind of reversion clause, so if HM can't keep them in print, the rights will revert.

    However, titles that HM licensed but hasn't published yet are assets that can't be disposed of until the company's secured creditors are paid. Amazon can still publish ebook editions. It's the hardcopy rights that would be tied up.

    This could get interesting.
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  12. #12
    Lurker, now activated. :-) Smiley0501's Avatar
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    Oh goodness.
    And to think I just put my job application in their hands...*sigh*

    I think it'll be interesting to watch but I am hoping they'll be able to fight it off. They pub some great stuff.
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  13. #13
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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

    Does anyone have any info on this outfit?
    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

    I'm reading one of their YA authors for a reader's group discussion and every page has multiple typos and serious editing lapses. The author is not a youngster. The book has gotten good reviews on amz, and Goodreads, but the editing is making it difficult to get through.

    Thanks for your help.
    C

  14. #14
    You probably want this thread.
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  15. #15
    fantasy dweller
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    Thank You! I did a search but this didn't come up.
    C

    Quote Originally Posted by laurasbadideas View Post
    You probably want this thread.

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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Updating link: http://www.hmhco.com/

    Just FYI, HMH emerged from bankruptcy June '12 (some details here), and went public (IPO) this week.
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  17. #17
    I'm in love with everything! trolly dei's Avatar
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    Does anyone have more recent info on HMH (or their imprint, Clarion Books)? I just received an offer (!!!) from an editor at Clarion. Looks like HMH has published The Giver, Life of Pi, Graceling, and many other impressive titles. Any info would be appreciated!

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    John Joseph Adams Books -- HMH

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a new sf/f line as of November 2015. I hadn't heard about it til now (yay for Ansible!).

    Here's JJA's editorial at Lightspeed about his imprint, and other things, last month.

    HMH Launches SF/F List Curated by 'Best American' Series Editor (also included at Ansible) and a post at Tor.com on the same day. Over at io9, Charlie Jane Anders joked about JJA cloning himself as well.

    ...

    Has anyone else heard anything new -- anything that wasn't any of these links? I am not finding a link nor a website for the imprint... I understand that JJA will be choosing new fiction to print, despite the line starting with three reprints.

    For anyone who wants to know more about JJA himself and/or his tastes, here's his About page from his site, which also lists his projects.
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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaoPaux View Post
    Woot! Thank you.

    I hadn't looked here in some time. JJA was talking to me about World Fantasy... [I was in] too many concoms in 2016, sorry.
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