Go Read This | Friday Project buys Aldiss backlist | The Bookseller

Interesting deal:

HarperCollins imprint The Friday Project has acquired more than 50 titles by prolific author, and former Bookseller columnist, Brian Aldiss.

Publisher Scott Pack bought UK and Commonwealth rights in the titles—comprising literary fiction, sci-fi and non-fiction works—as well as Aldiss—entire short-story archive from Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown. The acquisition also includes six new titles, which The Friday Project plans to publish in e-book and print editions over the next four years.

via Friday Project buys Aldiss backlist | The Bookseller.

The Right To Fail – The Friday Project

Eoin Purcell

The Noise
The Friday Project’s collapse and the subsequent acquisition of some of its assets by HarperCollins has generated a lot of heat, much noise and precious little decent analysis over the last few weeks. I’m not sure I have much to add one way or the other.

It is a complicated subject because a good number of people are angry, and justly, because their work will go unpaid. Some authors have lost their publishing contracts and one creditor is owed the massive sum of £150,000.

I know some of those involved, not on the inside but on the outside, and I feel sorry for them. I also feel sorry for the folks that have been stung by the business failure too, it would be very hard not to be.

The Heat
Some are concerned at the reported expenditure and at the suggestion that they might have saved some of their creditors pain by wrapping the business up earlier. You only need to read the discussions on Clare Christian’s now defunct blog to understand this argument. (The blog is now deleted)

Frankly, the truth of that suggestion is not clear cut. Who is to say what is the best way to act when faced with business troubles. It is possible sometimes to trade out of a rocky patch, get new funding and move to healthy sales, pay back creditors and generally rescue a business, sometimes it is not.

I’m glad I didn’t have to make that call in this occasion. I don’t begrudge TFP’s efforts to find new funding and to try and trade through difficulties, though the suggested expenditure is alarming.

The Analysis
What The Friday Project represented to me was a willingness to take risk, in this case, perhaps too many and too expensively taken. They were one of the few companies that was happy to say that online content was good enough to make it mainstream and in doing so they uncovered some great writing and some quality authors.

They failed to be different enough though, not having a Unique Selling Point, something that marked them out as clearly better or different from major publishers or indeed other independents, not that that is ever a barrier to success in most industries, including our own.

You can diss the effort, decry the fact that people will go unpaid and call the principles any name in the book, but at least they tried to shake up the medium, gave their efforts to the goal.

The wrap up
I say well done and hard luck to them and to their creditors. I wish, for all of them, that it could have ended better than the way it did and I hope never to have to face the extreme difficulties that a trade partners failure can impose, but I look forward to seeing where the TFP people go from here and how their efforts progress in their new surroundings which will, no doubt, present their own challenges.

Increasingly risk averse (at least this week)

Frankly, this is just sad news for the Friday Project

Snowbooks had more of the story and then this in Publishing News:

HARPERCOLLINS AND RANDOM House were this week vying to acquire selected author and book assets of publishing house The Friday Project which is expected to go into liquidation at a creditors meeting on 31 March.
Panos Eliades, of insolvency firm Panos Eliades Franklin, told PN on Wednesday: “We have been negotiating with HarperCollins over which authors they want to take over, and today Random House have made contact and they are now also competing for certain authors. We are happy to dispose of the assets on a piecemeal basis, but we are not approaching any other publishers at this stage.”

This sounds so unpleasant for everyone, most unfortunate!

HarperCollins buys The Friday Project (Apparently)

Eoin Purcell

From the Girl Friday Blog

Both Clare and Scott update with what little they can share.

The Telegraph has the full story and so too does The Bookseller:

HarperCollins, the book publishing giant owned by News Corporation, is poised to buy out of administration a small publishing house co-run by Scott Pack, the controversial former head buyer at Waterstone’s.

I hope the deal goes through, and that the people involved come out happy!

The Friday Project for sale?

Yup this The Friday Project
If this is true I will not be enormously surprised though a little part of me will certainly feel dissappointed that a really exciting and fresh independent has joined the ranks of so many that slipped in to the thick ranks of imprints within the majors.

That said, Pan Mac have been innovating a far bit themselves recently so the fit between the two would on a surface level with no deep knowledge seem pretty good.

I was amazed by the title counts in the article:

The feisty indie published 44 titles in 2007. Bestsellers include Blood, Sweat and Tea, a diary of a London ambulance driver, and the Popjustice series of mini-biographies. It had a gross turnover of £2.2m last year and hopes to hit £3.5m in 2008 with 60 new titles.

It never seemed that many! That’s probably a good thing.