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.
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .