Penguin Random House has sold its Author Solutions division to an affiliate of the Najafi Companies, a private investment firm that at one point owned Bookspan and made an offer to buy several hundred Borders outlets after the chain filed for Chapter 11. Terms of the deal, which closed December 31, were not disclosed.
In a brief letter to employees, PRH CEO Markus Dohle said with the sale of Author Solutions, a leader in supported self-publishing services, that “we reaffirm our focus on consumer book publishing through our 250 imprints worldwide, and our commitment to connecting our authors and their works to readers everywhere.”
Author Solutions was acquired by Penguin parent company Pearson in 2012 and became part of PRH following the 2013 merger of Random House and Penguin. A class action lawsuit against Author Solutions was filed in the summer of 2013 by several authors who charged the company with fraud. The case was dismissed in late 2015.
Author Solutions has been run by Andrew Phillips, a former Penguin executive, since July 2013; he and his management team remain in place. Phillips told PW the day-to-day operations will not change following the sale. While he thanked PRH for their support in recent years, Phillips said he is excited to be part of a company where Author Solutions will be more of a focus.
He noted that Najafi Companies head Jahm Najafi published a book using Author Solutions, as did a number of Najafi's family members. Najafi "believes in our mission of pairing authors with their audience," Phillps said. The company's major initiatives for 2016, which include international expansion and increasing its number of publishing partnerships, will continue, Phillips said.
Formed through a series of acquisitions of other self-publishing companies, Author Solutions has worked with over 200,000 authors, publishing about 250,000 titles. In addition to providing services to help authors produce a book, Author Solutions offers a range of services including cover design, editing, and marketing and publicity.
At the time Najafi sold Bookspan in early 2013, the company provided backing for Resolution, a talent and literary agency which closed in late 2014 and was run by former ICM chief Jeff Berg. Najafi also made another book-related investment in 2014, when it backed Paula Deen Ventures.
This story has been updated from its original version to reflect new information provided by Author Solutions.