H.B. Fenn Bankrupt
H.B. Fenn and Company, Canada’s largest book distributor, filed a bankruptcy notice last week, and although the company could restructure, indications are it will simply close down its operations. In a statement, CEO and founder Harold Fenn said, “My heart goes out to our over 125 employees and to the many publishers we represent, as well as the customers that have supported us over the years.” A number of American publishers used Fenn for Canadian distribution, including Macmillan, which last week was working to find new ways to get its books to accounts.

Strong 2010 at McGraw-Hill Ed
Despite a soft fourth quarter—sales dropped 4.6%, profits fell 51.7%—McGraw-Hill Education reported strong earnings in 2010 on a modest sales increase. Total 2010 revenues rose 1.9%, to $2.4 billion, while operating income jumped 31.7%, to $363.4 million. 2010 revenues were driven by the higher ed, professional, and international group, where sales increased 3.8%, to $1.3 billion. Revenue in the school group was flat, at $1.1 billion. In professional publishing, digital sales grew by double digits, and by the end of 2010 M-HE had about 6,000 e-book titles.

Earnings Fall at HarperCollins
News Corp. said sales and operating income at its HarperCollins subsidiary fell for the period ended December 31. News Corp. reported that sales declined due to fewer new titles and “lower licensing fees.” HC said it “had a good quarter, exceeding its plan,” and its children’s division did “extremely well.” Worldwide e-book sales jumped 400% in the same period.

CPSC Issues Stay
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has extended the stay of enforcement on total lead content in children’s products until December 31, 2011. The stay had been scheduled to expire on February 10. Under the CPSIA, products for children under 12, including some books, must have a certificate of compliance showing they have been tested for acceptable total lead levels.

Borders Misses Payment
After not paying its major publishing vendors in December, Borders announced January 30 that it would delay its January payments to vendors and landlords in a move to conserve cash. Borders said it “understands the impact of its decision on the affected parties,” adding that it is “committed to working with its vendors and other business partners to achieve an outcome that is in the best interest of Borders and these parties for the long-term.” The action will almost certainly end any hope Borders has of winning approval from publishers of its proposal to exchange missed December payments for notes.