Hachette to Buy Workman for $240 Million as Publishing Continues Consolidation

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Workman, known for “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and other lucrative older titles, is one of the largest independent publishers in the United States.

Hachette Book Group said on Monday that it had agreed to buy Workman Publishing, an independent company known for titles like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and the “Brain Quest” workbooks, the latest expected acquisition in an industry whose power is increasingly concentrated in a handful of major companies. The cost of the deal was $240 million.

Workman is one of the largest independent publishers in the United States and is appealing to its new parent for, among other reasons, its lucrative backlist. Backlists include books published years ago that continue to sell — as opposed to the frontlist of new titles — and at Workman, they are a major focus and a steady stream of reliable income. Michael Pietsch, the chief executive of the Hachette Book Group, said that three-quarters of Workman’s revenue comes from those older titles.

Carolan Workman, the executive chair of Workman, and Dan Reynolds, its chief executive, said in interviews that to make this happen, the company publishes relatively few titles a year and invests in them heavily. They also look for content that will be relevant for years, like pregnancy or gardening. “Carrots Love Tomatoes,” a book about plants that grow nicely together, has been reprinted 87 times since its first printing in 1975. Its “What to Expect” pregnancy and parenting guides have more than 40 million copies in print.

“It’s also very pleasing to have your choices validated,” Ms. Workman said. “Where you publish a book and it just goes slowly and quietly — and then it keeps going slowly and quietly, and all of a sudden you have 80,000 in print. It’s like, ‘Woo! Look what we did!’ And to have a lot of those quietly creeping up to 80,000 is pretty damn good.”

Source- The New York Times

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