In a move that surprised many in the self-publishing community, Macmillan has announced that it will cease all operations at Pronoun, a self-publishing platform that it acquired in May 2016.
Jeff Seroy, senior v-p of publicity and marketing at Macmillan's Farrar Straus and Giroux unit, confirmed the shutdown.
Asked why Pronoun was being shuttered 18 months after the acquisition, Seroy said despite Macmillan investment in the platform and “terrific” feedback from Pronoun authors, “we came to the conclusion that there wasn't a path forward to a profitable business model and decided to shut down the platform.”
Seroy said Macmillan will, “continue to invest in the data and analytics side of the company as we have found it of great value.” He also said that former Pronoun CEO Josh Brody and former chief product officer Ben Zhuk left Macmillan earlier in the year.
In addition, Seroy said, some of the Pronoun staff are staying with MacMillan while others are leaving. At the time of the acquisition, Pronoun had about 20 employees who were relocated to Macmillan's offices in the Flatiron Building.
According to a statement posted on the Pronoun website on November 6, the site will not create new accounts or allow the publishing of any new titles. Distribution of Pronoun e-books will cease on January 15, 2018.
The post from Macmillan, entitled "Epilogue," read: “Unfortunately, Pronoun’s story ends here. While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business.”
At press time neither Macmillan nor Pronoun CEO Josh Brody responded to PW attempts to question why the site was closed. Brody said, in a January interview, that Pronoun had set new royalty rates and had spent the months since the acquisition integrating into Macmillan.
Originally launched in 2009 as Vook, an early e-book and interactive content production platform, the company pivoted in 2015 and relaunched itself as a self-publishing platform called Pronoun under the direction of Brody.
In May 2016 Pronoun was acquired by Macmillan, and Brody was kept on board as president. Ben Zhuk, Pronoun chief product officer, was also retained and named v-p of product for Macmillan.
Update: We added responses from Jeff Seroy to PW's questions about the shutdown that were not available for an earlier version of the story.