Monday, December 22, 2008

Another reason to self-publish

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in business for more than 150 years and one of the country's oldest and most prestigious publishers, said it will stop acquiring new books until further notice, an unusual move that shows how the slowdown in book sales is hurting publishing.

Houghton's large textbook division isn't affected by the stoppage, but the trade and reference division is big enough to publish about 400 titles a year, including the works of Philip Roth. Some of its books for coming years already are under contract, but many others normally would be new acquisitions.

A freeze of, say, three months could mean 50 fewer titles down the road. While some critics think too many books come out every year, publishers say they need a steady stream of fresh titles to attract a fickle reading public.

Book chains including Barnes & Noble and Borders have seen sales slow. Sales tracked by the Association of American Publishers fell 2% in September at $1.06 billion and were down by 1.5% for the year. (info from The Wall Street Journal)

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