The news surrounding our friends at Quercus this week is chastening. From small but profitable contract publishing beginnings to the riches of the Stieg bubble. From Publisher of the Year in 2011 to expanding into the US in 2013. And now seeking a buyer.

Trade publishing is hard. It is even harder when you choose to invest in people to help you grow organically, however talented those people are. It took Bloomsbury a while to work out how best to spend the Potter millions, including one disastrous Christmas season in 2006 spent spread betting on commercial non-fiction. But in the end it seems they have hit on a course that is paying dividends: acquire small content businesses targeted in discernible niches, many of them removed from the crap shoot of trade publishing. Maybe the only way to appease the growing pains for shareholders who are not interested in the long, roller coaster ride of investment in entertainment content is through strategic acquisition.

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