After months of negotiations with a number of parties, AOL Time Warner has decided not to sell the AOL Time Warner Book Group. AOLTW spokesperson Tricia Primrose said the corporation "did not receive an offer that we felt reflects the true value of the company." She noted that the book group has performed well financially, adding, "We are proud of its accomplishments and will happily hold on to it." Primrose called AOLTWBG "a valuable asset" that "we will support going forward."

Primrose explained that AOLTW's debt-reduction program "remains on track." The sale of the book group had first been brought up as a way to help cut the company's $28-billion debt. But the sale of various assets and the recent legal settlement with Microsoft, which brought the company $750 million, has helped slice the debt load. Primrose said AOLTW CEO Dick Parsons had maintained, when speaking about the possible sale of the book unit, "we're not in a fire sale mode." AOLTW had been looking to receive more than $400 million for the book unit, but the best offer it received was approximately $320 million.

The news, needless to say, was met with tremendous relief in the publishing community. "I'm relieved that it's not a continuation of consolidation in the industry," said Trident's Robert Gottlieb. Maureen Egen, president of the book group, said, "We're very relieved and very happy" that the long process of waiting to be sold was over. Despite being in limbo for months, she added, "a lot of good came out of that process. We learned a lot more about what we do and how we do it. It gives you a chance to step back and take a real look at your operation. Still, we're glad it's over, and delighted with the result." She added they planned an immediate champagne celebration in the office.