In a move that dramatically increases its presence in the children's publishing market, the Hachette Book Group has acquired more than 1,000 titles published by Disney Book Group. The deal involves bestselling authors and award-winners as well as backlist and recently published books plus a number of unpublished titles.
Effective immediately, the Disney titles will become part of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which is overseen by executive v-p and publisher Megan Tingley. HBG and LBYR are very familiar with the Disney titles since HBG has handled sales and distribution for the Disney Book Group’s imprints for several years.
Tingley noted that the purchase involves board books, picture books, middle grade, young adult titles, and graphic novels “which strongly complements our publishing program. A number of these writers and artists are beloved ones we already publish, and we look forward to working with them, as well as with talent new to our list, in the years ahead.” Tingley noted that the purchase will "essentially double our backlist count, giving us a broader and deeper range of titles to pitch for retail promotions and subsidiary rights opportunities, as well as to repackage and reissue in new formats."
The Walt Disney Company, which has expanded tremendously in years, said the divestiture will allow it to focus on acquiring and developing content that can be leveraged across the company’s different platforms. To that end, Disney is retaining such imprints as Disney Hyperion, Disney Press, Disney Editions, Marvel Press, and Lucasfilm Press. “As part of one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, we look forward to creating and developing content that is so compelling that it can be experienced beyond books across multiple platforms and media,” said Tonya Agurto, senior v-p at Disney Publishing Worldwide.
Among the authors and titles that Disney Publishing Worldwide will continue to collaborate with are Rick Riordan (and the Rick Riordan Presents imprint), Eoin Colfer, Mo Willems, Ryan Higgins, Dhonielle Clayton, Alexandra Bracken, and Gretchen McNeil.
The deal does not involve any Disney employees, and Tingley said LBYR will be hiring staff in the areas of editorial, design, marketing, and publicity to support the new titles. Tingley plans to hire one senior-level editor to help manage the growing list, but for the most part integrating the new list will fall to existing division members including v-p and editor-in-chief Alvina Ling as well as editorlal directors in such areas as picture books, middle grade, young adult, licensed brands, nonfiction, and graphic novels. With the additional titles, Tingley said she expects the output of LBYR's frontlist to grow by about 25 titles a year as the company builds on relationships with newly acquired authors and looks for opportunities to repackage and reissue titles.
Some of the new titles and authors who are joining LBYR are bestselling series such as the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter, and Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee, backlist titles by children’s literature stars including Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, Andrea Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, Greg Pizzoli, E. Lockhart, and Lane Smith, as well as the forthcoming titles Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Doreen Rappaport and Eric Velasquez, The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Lift by Minh Le and Dan Santat, and The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein, Some titles from the Jump the Sun line are also now at LBYR.
Initially, the Disney titles will be reprinted under the main LBYR imprint, but selected titles could appear under other imprints such as Poppy and LB Kids.
The purchase of the 1,000+ Disney Book Group titles is the second such transaction HBG has done with the Disney Company. In 2013, it bought about 1,000 adult titles from Disney’s Hyperion book group, a purchase that significantly boosted HBG’s backlist offerings. The Hyperion books would go on to form the core of HBG’s Hachette Books division.
Commenting on the newest deal, HBG CEO Michael Pietsch said, "This acquisition is a natural step in HBG’s plans for growth and backlist expansion. I’m looking forward to seeing LBYR turn its creative and collaborative energies and its market expertise to this superb group of children’s book creators.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include some of the major authors who are remaining with Disney and authors that have joined LBYR.