Monday, February 2, 2009

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt "Teetering" in Boston

The Boston Globe published this amazing article yesterday about the fact that the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt office in Boston is on the brink of collapse. It's a comprehensive and plausible summary of how it got to this point (hint: corporate greed and endless mergers, coupled with the horrible economy and the shifting publishing paradigm).

But the true gold is in the comments section. Dozens of articulate publishing veterans, many of whom are former HMH employees, have written in with their thoughts on the situation. It's fascinating. There's even a student commenter who hurls insult at the industry for its stupid adherence to printed texts.

The article's founding premise, that school textbook publishing is in dire trouble, is confirmed in reports I've gotten from and about all the major (and some minor) players in the industry. All seem to agree: Whereas college textbooks are in better shape, the divisions that publish texts for elementary and high schools are in deep, deep doo-doo. States are going bankrupt (in particular, California), which means they don't have money to buy new textbooks.

The world of textbook publishing is twisted, indeed, as some of the article's comments hint.

No comments: