Friday, July 26, 2013

Hachette to leave New Zealand

This release went out to the book trade earlier today:
Trade Announcement
22th July 2013
Malcolm Edwards, Chairman of Hachette Australia and New Zealand, today announced the following:
“It is with great sadness that today, we announce a restructuring of our New Zealand business, which will involve the immediate relocation of the finance, administration, and IT functions to Australia and the closure of Hachette's New Zealand publishing unit, after the 2013 programme has been published.
“Our long serving management team of Kevin Chapman, Managing Director; Warren Adler, Editorial Director; and Rick Groufsky, Financial Controller are to leave the company. Regrettably, we expect that approximately 12 other jobs will be lost. Kevin, Warren and Rick have made an enormous contribution to the company over many years, which will be marked in the appropriate way, at a later stage. I am grateful to them for agreeing to stay until the restructuring is completed to ensure that it goes seamlessly.
“Hachette New Zealand will become solely focused on the marketing, promotion and sales of our international titles and the New Zealand backlist. Mel Winder, as Sales & Marketing Director, will lead the company, reporting to Matt Richell, CEO of Hachette Australia, with immediate effect.
“These changes have been caused by the diminution of our business in New Zealand, caused largely by the increased sourcing of books from overseas, at the expense of the local trade, and the rapid growth of e-books.”
Bugger. Hachette has been a great publisher – as it was in its previous incarnations as Hodder & Stoughton, Hodder Headline and Hodder Moa Beckett – and was great to work with. I have never laughed so much in a publisher’s office as I did with Kevin and Warren. This is terrible news for them, but also for the rest of the staff – and also for their authors, editors and others.

So next time you are tempted to buy a book from the Book Depository, just say no.


Tom Clare said...

Is Malcolm Edwards saying that faced with the choice of buying a New Zealand book or a book from overseas, most readers will choose the book from overseas? Because otherwise I don't quite see the link between the "diminution" of a New Zealand publisher's business in New Zealand and online sales from overseas.

Obviously I can appreciate the effect such sales generally have on local booksellers, but surely most people will source NZ material locally.

Stephen Stratford said...

As I understand it, the main part of the multinationals' business here is distributing overseas books - not just Dan Brown and JK Rowling but nonfiction of every type. This is what allows them to take risks on publishing NZ books which sell in much smaller quantities. If they don't have that solid underpinning of the bestsellers and long-tail sellers, they can't - not sure that subsidise is the right word, but something like that, support a local publishing operation. Yes, we buy NZ books locally but those are a small part of the book trade. It's the overseas stuff that drives the business, and buying books from overseas really does undermine not just our booksellers but also our publishers.

A related issue is that prices in NZ are set by head office in London etc. That head office will sell cheaper to the Book Depository than to the distributor here. Dunno why that is, but it is certainly not our publishers and booksellers to blame for NZ's high prices for books. Booksellers would love to have them cheaper. Wouldn't we all.

Tom Clare said...

Yes, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining.

It is going to be fascinating watching what happens in the publishing market during the next ten - fifteen years.

It's pretty interesting right now.