Yesterday it was announced that Moody’s has downgraded Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s rating, which sounds sort of familiar . . . probably because they did the same thing last December.
This isn’t good news for the Education Media & Publishing Group—which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands and owns HMH—but rather than pick on HMH for its mishandling of Drenka Willen’s retirement, or for telling the media about their freeze on acquisitions, I’d rather just point out the frightening statistic that triggered this downgrading:
Moody’s maintains that HMH remains vulnerable to state and local spending in the United States on so-called basal and supplemental K-12 (twelfth grade) educational publications. It says those categories posted a 22.8pc decline in sales in January 2009. (from Independent.ie)
A 22.8% decline in sales in one month is pretty severe, especially when talking about educational publications. Book sales overall were flat in January, although they did plunge in February (like all other retail sales) by more than 10%.
On the positive side of things, Cees Nooteboom—one of Drenka’s authors—has been getting some good buzz for Nomad’s Hotel, such as this write-up in Flavorpill’s Daily Dose. And Filip Florian—another HMH author whose Little Fingers sounds pretty interesting, and is under review—will be the feature author at the Observer Translation Project next month.
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Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
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Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .