Monday, July 16, 2007

Biz Buzz: Harcourt Education Acquired

According to a PW Daily Alert, The HM Riverdeep Group has agreed to acquire Harcourt Education in 2008. You can read the full news item here.

I'm interested in this because (a) I occasionally write for Harcourt and know the changes will somehow affect me, and (b) industry-wide acquisitions and mergers like this continue to change the nature of freelance work for all of us.

With each similar shift in the business, I notice that:
  • The freelancer (writer, editor, illustrator, designer, etc.) gets further removed from editorial discussions and decisions.
  • Frequent staff turnover and changing in-house processes make it increasingly difficult for the freelancer to establish ongoing relationships with staff contacts.
  • It's common for the new regime to institute individual project/sweeping product line changes to match new editorial philosophies and publishing goals. So, existing projects get shuffled, shelved, or scrapped.
  • Publishers make personnel cuts and lose valuable staff expertise.
  • "Liberated" staff compete for freelance jobs or leave the industry altogether.
  • Freelancer fees take another hit.

No comments: