Oops, Hachette. You just left an awful lot of journos with egg on their faces. All those columnists who wrote up long articles on how your purchase of Perseus Books Group was going to underpin your offensive against Amazon are now having to rewind and, at best, write laments on how you’ve been left defenseless to carry on your crusade against the Bezos dragon. The Wall Street Journal gets that dig in in the second para of its coverage.

Yes, you said, “despite great effort from all three parties, we could not reach agreement on all of the issues necessary to close the transaction.” But couldn’t you have gone just that extra yard for the sake of the Authors United authors? They all had money riding on you – (almost) every dollar of their bloated NYT bestseller-flushed bank balances. Never mind the Perseus indie authors and publishers who you were going to dispose of to Ingram Content Group with nary a second glance – who gives a shit about them when you have James Patterson to think of?

Yes, your target’s owner, private equity firm Perseus LLC, did have a particularly nasty legal mess to deal with right now, with lawyers for its creditors claiming that its founder James Pearl fraudulently transferred assets to his wife and a trust while dying of cancer to keep the money out of their hands. Yes, Perseus LLC probably needed a few successful sales to pay them off. For their sakes, and for the sakes of all the pensioners whose money was invested into Perseus’s loss-making funds, couldn’t you just have stuck a clothespeg on your nose and done the deal?

Yes, as Publishers Lunch kindly reminds us, you said back in May that “size is, and will continue to be, a critical asset in the forthcoming years in this market.” Was that about the same time you said to analysts that you needed to reimpose the agency model of book pricing through your size and reach in the English-speaking market? Big Five publisher that you are, are you still feeling like the little David in front of Amazon’s Goliath?

Remember, Hachette: Every time you flub a deal, God miffs a Patterson. For God’s sake, think of the Pattersons.


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