The announcement yesterday that newly-merged publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt would temporarily stop acquiring new manuscripts seems to have set the book industry in a panic.
I'm not in a panic, and you shouldn't be, either. Here's why: publishers do this kind of thing all the time, for all kinds of reasons and especially at the end of the fiscal year. And they've been doing it for years.
What they don't do is make a public statement about it.
::: face palm :::
Look, when two large publishers like Harcourt and Houghton Mifflin merge, it only makes sense that they'd put a temporary hold on further acquisitions until they've had a chance to assess all of the properties they already own. After all, they've just doubled their editorial inventory. One thing a newly-merged publisher is going to try very hard not to do is to cancel contracts; canceling contracts leads to a lack of confidence in the publishing company and that's never a good thing.
So if canceling a lot of contracts isn't an option, then what?
A smart solution might be to just slow down or stop buying for a while. Take a fiscal breather, as it were. Because the truth is that - right now - there's probably no room for new manuscripts in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's inventory.
Really, the sky isn't falling, people. Just chill out, will ya?