Hachette Buying Workman Publishing for $240 Million
Hachette Book Group is buying Workman Publishing for $240 million, a deal that will close after regulatory approval is received, which Hachette parent company Lagardère said is expected to be this fall. Workman had sales of $134 million in 2020, up 12% over 2019.
One of the largest independent publishers left in the U.S., Workman includes Workman Publishing, Workman Audio, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Algonquin Young Readers, Artisan, Storey Publishing, and Timber Press. All but the audiobooks imprint will comprise Hachette's eighth publishing group. Workman's strongest categories include cookbooks, parenting/pregnancy guides, gardening, country living, humor, children's books, gift books, fiction, audio and calendars.
Workman has developed many popular publishing franchises, such as Brain Quest and Page-a-Day calendars. Among its bestsellers are B. Kliban's Cat, The Official Preppy Handbook, The Silver Palate Cookbook, What to Expect When You're Expecting (and the What to Expect line), Sandra Boynton's children's books and 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. The company also is the distributor for The Experiment, duopress, Erewhon Books, and Familius.
When the acquisition is completed, the new Workman group at Hachette will be led by current Workman CEO Dan Reynolds, who will report to Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch and will join HBG's executive management board. Workman executive chair and president Carolan Workman will retire at the close of the transaction. The New York Times reported that all proceeds from the sale will go to Whispering Bells, a charitable foundation set up by Peter and Carolan Workman.
The acquisition is the latest in a series of moves that have led to continued consolidation among larger publishers. HarperCollins bought Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's trade operations earlier this year, and last November Penguin Random House announced a deal to purchase Simon & Schuster, which has not been finalized yet.
About the Hachette-Workman deal, Michael Pietsch commented: "We have admired Workman for decades, marveling at the spirit of innovation that drives their business, their strong brand franchises, their focus on backlist, the work culture they have nurtured, and the outstanding reputation they have established among authors, agents, booksellers, and the media. I could not be more thrilled to welcome Workman's incredibly talented employees and their brilliant authors and illustrators to Hachette. The Workman program will powerfully complement HBG's existing publishing programs, and this acquisition will unlock new opportunities for growth in exciting directions."
Carolan Workman said, "When Peter Workman launched our quirky little company over a half-century ago, it marked the beginning of a bold and joyful voyage. All these many years later, when I recognized that the time had come for Workman to have a new home, my first and foremost goal was to find a place where Workman's unique culture could prosper long into the future, a place where we could nurture and protect our greatest assets: our authors, illustrators, and, most of all, our amazingly wonderful staff. I am so happy to be joining with Hachette. They clearly respect not only what we are but who we are. I truly believe that our two companies will thrive together in this partnership."
Dan Reynolds said, "Workman is defined by the brilliant leadership of Peter and Carolan Workman, and I am grateful that their work and, most importantly, their values will live on under new ownership. As I'm getting to know Hachette and their leadership team, I am ever more confident Workman will not only prosper in the days and years to come but remain an innovative leader in book publishing."
Peter Workman, who died in 2013, founded Workman in 1968 and the inaugural list was highlighted by Richard Hittleman's Yoga 28-Day Exercise Plan. In 1989, Workman Publishing bought Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill and, later, acquired Storey Publishing and Timber Press. In 1994, Workman Publishing launched Artisan, and last year it founded Workman Audio.