In a move said to be unprecedented in publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has announced an indefinite moratorium on manuscript acquisitions. Not just unsolicited manuscripts – all submissions, though Vice President of Communications Josef Blumenfeld said “the right project” might still go before a review board.

Blumenfeld tagged the company’s decision to shut off the spigot and work only with books in the pipeline “a symbol of doing things smarter” and called it “doing good business.” Though many had looked for publishers to adopt new and better business models, no one expected a halt in acquisitions as the new standard of practice. Yikes.

In all the fuss over the failing auto and banking industries, is anyone worried about the production of books grinding to a halt? Job losses for editors, agents, and authors?

A literature bail-out? Unlikely.

4 thoughts on “NO MORE ACQUISITIONS”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    HMH. That’s my publisher. Such an incredible downer I haven’t even summoned the energy to mention it on my own blog. Glad it’s public news now, anyway, so people can understand why I’ve been glum the last few days (both on-blog and off-blog).

    Thanks also for your more recent Rasmuson announcements — that IS good news.

  2. I felt the same. I had only one book with them but was getting ready to submit another. And then there’s the ripple effect.

    So I’m telling myself this downturn is like an extended writing retreat during which I’m not going to worry about selling or marketing – I’m just going to write what I love, pursuing literary over commercial (after I finish a couple of projects already underway). At some point I’ll have to eat, but that will work itself out. In my fantasy, the market recovers and everyone’s desperate for good books again – and I just happen to have a few fabulous manuscripts ready to go.

  3. We can only hope. The arts have always been an odd fit with the free market, degenerating into celebrity frenzy. Other countries recognize this and subsidize the arts. Oh, but that would be socialism. As for our own National Endowment for the Arts, I’d tell you what Alaska Congressman Don Young says about that, but it’s unprintable.

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