Houghton Mifflin, the Boston-based publisher of books by Jhumpa Lahiri and Philip Roth, as well as the "Best American" series of anthologies, was recently acquired by the Irish educational software company Riverdeep Holdings for $1.75 billion. Riverdeep, which is actually the smaller of the two companies, was able to purchase Houghton Mifflin, the fourth-largest textbook publisher in the United States, by securing private investment and assuming over $1.5 billion in debt. The new company will be known as HM Rivergroup.
Houghton Mifflin, which was created by the 1880 merger of publishers Ticknor and Fields and Henry Houghton’s Riverside Press, publishes poets Donald Hall and Glyn Maxwell and fiction writers Tim O’Brien and John Edgar Wideman, among others. The company was owned by three private investment groups, which bought it in 2002 from the French media conglomerate Vivendi for approximately $1.7 billion.
After Janet Silver was ousted as publisher of Houghton Mifflin's adult trade division last month, it was unclear where the fifty-three-year-old who had worked with the likes of Jhumpa Lahiri and Philip Roth would end up. All that was known was that Becky Saletan replaced Silver when she was named publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Adult Trade Books, a unit that was created when Houghton Mifflin merged with Harcourt last summer. (The $4 billion merger came less than a year after Houghton Mifflin itself was acquired by the Irish educational software company Riverdeep Holdings for $1.75 billion in late 2006.)
Motoko Rich of the New York Times today reported that Silver has been appointed editor at large at Nan A. Talese, an imprint of Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, where she will focus on editing. Nan A. Talese is the publisher of Margaret Atwood, Jim Crace, Jennifer Egan, Ian McEwan, and others.
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