First, Key Porter. This week, Key Porter cancelled a book that was only two weeks from publication, suggesting that the publisher was in serious trouble. In fact, it now looks like the Canadian publisher is going down. (My friend, Mark Bourrie, whose book was the one canned, got an offer from another publisher yesterday, thankfully, so at least his saga may be short-lived).
And then there’s Borders.
This is starting to feel, at least in the book world, a little bit like the Enron meltdown. Borders is on the verge of bankruptcy if it can’t pull out new financing. It can no longer pay its suppliers, and has had shipments of books suspended. That’s bad enough.
But its Chief Information Officer and General Counsel have also abruptly resigned, along with several other executives. That doesn’t usually happen unless there’s a backstory beyond financial troubles: those are the folks you need in place to stickhandle the restructuring.
Publishers Weekly agrees that it’s not looking good for Borders:
“DBW 2011 moderator Sarah Weinman reported on Sunday, a Borders bankruptcy seems increasingly likely in 2011. If Borders defaults on its debts to publishers, Weinman writes, that ‘means a sizable chunk of the trade book business, somewhere around 10% of overall market, will vanish overnight. And that will affect publishers’ bottom lines and force them to make decisions they may not have wanted to, or would regret, in order to keep their own balance sheets as close to the black as possible.'”
Ten percent. It makes me wonder just how many other authors will be getting letters telling them their books are on hold. And if you want to understand why all of this is happening, read this article about Amazon’s stranglehold on the market.