Just in case you haven’t heard yet, Deseret Book acquired Seagull (discount retailer) and Covenant (publisher). They made the announcement this morning.
This was a surprise. I knew they were still “talking,” but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would go this way. Well, maybe in my very wildest dreams, but Mr. Kofford has not made it a secret that he enjoys being a competitive pain in DBs side–and so I repeat, this was a surprise.
So now what?
First, I want to say that this is NOT a case of big, bad Deseret Book picking on poor, sweet little Covenant/Seagull. Lew Kofford has enough business savvy that no one is going to walk all over him. This is a wise business move on the part of DB and Kofford seems happy with it. The good news is that DB intends to keep the companies separate and to continue to have Covenant and Seagull function as they have been. That is a better situation than gobbling them up and merging.
But that’s the end of the good news. This is a blow to smaller publishers and independent bookstores who are already struggling to compete in a market dominated by a few giants. I wish I could cry “No fair” and accuse them of doing something bad and wrong, but I can’t. This is the way business works these days. Wal-Mart does it. Colgate does it. The big NY based publishing conglomerates do it. They purchase smaller houses but let them continue to run themselves.
The fact is, in business, you swim with the big guys or you sink and get eaten. Sometimes the big guy will let you ride on his back rather than eat you up. From a small publisher’s point of view, both getting eaten (fast death) or forced to ride the big guy’s back are both better options than getting kicked out of the pond and flopping on the banks for awhile, gasping for air, then dying a long, slow torturous death.
And I can’t say that if DB approached me tomorrow and made me an offer that I wouldn’t sell out. I’d have to think a good long time, but I really don’t know what I’d do.
I know many of you want to know how this will effect you–your chances of getting published. For now, it will remain status quo. There will still be two houses/imprints (more actually, because DB has several imprints). They will each specialize in what they are currently specializing in. You will continue to submit to both houses, as you always have and for the same reasons as before. And then we just wait and see.