The Unresolved Rumor & Why
The rumor and buzz was rampant on the floor of the Christian Booksellers trade show—now called International Christian Retail Show. If you read any of the trade email publications you’ve already seen this news. Multnomah Books has been sold. They produce about 100 titles a year and have over 600 books on their backlist. Ironically on the front of their website the book they are promoting is Communicating for a Change, Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. No one seemed to know the answer who purchased Multnomah. I’m sure someone knows the answer but most of those people are legally bound not to release the buyer’s name.
How in the world do these things get leaked out into the publishing community without specifics? While at the show, I heard from a literary agent that some journalist in Sisters, Oregon (where Multnomah is located) got wind of the sale and began asking questions. Prior to the show, several agents were called and told about the pending sale (but not the buyer) because of this leak. It only fueled the speculation and talk. Authors and agents are rightfully concerned when such a sale transpires. Several years ago I was a part of a company that purchased over 300 titles from another publishing house. As the de-facto leader of the editorial area at the time, I fielded numerous questions from concerned authors and agents. There were many changes resulting from such an acquisition and I expect many changes and unplanned things to happen with this change as well.
Why don’t we have an answer about the buyer? These types of major publishing transactions happen with a limited number of top executives involved in the negotiations. Someone did get the nod to become the buyer but the agreement isn’t totally secured. I’d compare it to a real estate transaction. You’ve made an offer on a house and your offer has been accepted. Yeah! Yet in the real estate agreement, nothing is finalized. There are still various junctures where the transaction can completely fall apart. In the house example, if I’m the buyer, I get to inspect the house. Maybe it’s got a cracked foundation and the current owner refuses to fix it. Then as the buyer, I’m able to walk away from it and the house returns to the market. At a variety of points in a real estate deal, the deal isn’t firmly a deal until you go to the closing and sign the final paperwork. It’s the same with a major publishing transaction. Here’s just one thing that has to be investigated: all of the Multnomah publishing contracts. The new buyer wants to go through each of these contracts and see what is in that legal paperwork. Which books are forthcoming and when are they scheduled? What are the special terms that Multnomah agreed to fulfill and are they terms the new buyer can agree to fulfill? These questions are one of thousands that need to be answered—before the deal is firm and announced to the community. In the meantime, everyone wants to know—and a few people do know the answers—yet the deal needs to proceed with due diligence.
While we wait for the news about Multnomah, last week another publishing transaction happened in the Christian arena—and almost no one was talking about it. For many months, Standard Publishing has been up for sale from their parent company, Standex. Standard Publishing was sold to The Wick Group. You can follow this link to learn more but it’s not a rumor. It’s a fact.