Hachette Books to buy Perseus Books

Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:48pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group said it would buy Perseus Books Group, keeping the books business of the sixth-largest U.S. publisher and selling the client services businesses to Ingram Content Group.

Hachette, the fourth-largest U.S. publisher, said it would make Perseus's publishing business a new division comprising of nine imprints, including Avalon Books, Basic Books, Da Capo Press, PublicAffairs, and Running Press.

Perseus brings out about 700 new titles per year and has a backlist of more than 6,000 books, Hachette said in a statement.

The financial details of the deal were not specified.

The deal would give Hachette leverage in a months-long dispute with e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc over the pricing of e-books, the New York Times said.

Amazon has cut the number of print books it buys from Hachette, delayed the delivery of some titles and even removed an option for buyers to pre-order "The Silkworm", Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's second crime novel, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

With the world's largest online retailer now dominating the e-book market, it has begun demanding that publishers cut prices and pay higher fees.

Authors and other publishing insiders have, in recent weeks, accused Amazon of wielding its power as a major retailer to gain an unfair advantage during contract talks.

Hachette said on Tuesday it would sell Perseus's client services division to book distributor Ingram, a unit of Ingram Industries, to form a distributor with more than 400 clients ranging from DreamWorks Press to Harvard Business Review Press.

Perseus Books's Chief Executive David Steinberger will leave once the deal is completed, but remain with Hachette as a consultant for an unspecified period.

(Reporting by Soham Chatterjee and Subrat Patnaik in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings and Savio D'Souza)

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