The Wall Street Journal reported last week that publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching a deal with creditors to wipe out more than $3 billion in debt. This will be the second major restructuring for Houghton in two years. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/houghton-mifflin-harcourt-enters-bankruptcy-process/
The Journal calls Houghton a major textbook publisher, and the company says it’s been hurt by state and local budget cuts to K-12 education programs.
Fans of Tolkien know Houghton as the American publisher of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Several books I treasure are Tolkien editions illustrated by Alan Lee, artistic director for Peter Jackson’s movies, whose drawing and paintings shaped the films, and in some cases, served as the the actual backgrounds for outdoor scenes.
These are kind of books I treasure as print editions. At the same time, it’s easy to imagine a transition to ebooks could be a business saving move for the textbook division. Industry watchers knew Houghton was in trouble as early as 2008, when it temporarily suspended new book acquisitions. It’s hard to believe they are the only traditional publisher that is struggling for survival.