Having failed in its bid to buy the Perseus Book Group in 2014, Hachette Book Group announced Tuesday afternoon that it has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the company’s publishing division. Perseus announced last September that it was looking for potential buyers, and discussions are ongoing about the sale of its distribution business.
Both parties hope to close the deal by the end of March, following regulatory approval.
When the deal is done, HBG will make the Perseus publishing group a new division under Susan Weinberg, a long-time Perseus executive who has served most recently as senior v-p and group publisher. Weinberg will join HBG’s executive management board as senior v-p and publisher of Perseus Books, reporting directly to HBG CEO Michael Pietsch.
Perseus comprises nine imprints: Avalon Travel, Basic Books, Basic Civitas, Da Capo Press, Da Capo Lifelong Books, PublicAffairs, Running Press, Seal Press, and Westview Press. The publisher also has partnerships with The Economist, The Nation Institute, Participant Media, and The Weinstein Company.
Noting the last minute cancellation of the Perseus purchase 18 months ago, Pietsch told PW he was “very happy to be at this point.” He sees the purchase as "a big step in expanding our range and expertise in a wide number of new nonfiction categories." HBG has made no secret of its desire to expand in the nonfiction area, and it acquired about 1,000 adult nonfiction books from Hyperion after the bid to buy Perseus failed. Those titles now form the core of the Hachette Books division under the direction of Mauro DiPreta.
Piestsch said he has no plans to make major changes in Perseus’s publishing operations. "They have been publishing brilliantly and we want to help them be even better," he said. Perseus publishes about 500 new titles annually and has a backlist of approximately 6,000 titles. In addition to its large nonfiction library, Perseus also publishes children’s books and a number of fiction works.
In about six months, HBG plans to move Perseus’s New York City employees into its own offices in Manhattan. HBG also intends to move the Da Capo Boston staff to HBG’s Boston office. The purchase does add three cities to HBG’s operational map, with Perseus having offices in Philadelphia, Boulder, and Berkeley.
David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, said the company has made "very good progress" on selling the distribution business and has been in ongoing talks with a number of interested parties. Steinberger will stay on with Perseus, until the future of the distribution business is decided. An announcement regarding the distribution business, Steinberger added, "will be made at the appropriate time."