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11 January 2007

HM Rivergroup - IRISH Software Publisher Gobbled Houghton Mifflin

The real question is whether any corporate take-over in textbook publishing will change the 'educational culture'. I suppose that without changing the 'corporate culture' of the business, content and pedogogic creativity becomes a moot point.

This post is just a reminder that we have some substantive checking to do, after we catch up with this name change. Sorry, I apologise to the faculty members; I caught on only and exactly one month after this occured.

Poets&Writers, Inc.

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.

What Vivendi did and did not own, who owns it now (especially which Canadians are still in it), all of this extends my comprehension to the limits. Sitting in Québec, I have the feeling that the corporate stakeholders in publishing with names like Transcontinental and Quebecor World, the names that change little, may turn out to be the biggest players. Maybe it is more important to first ask who prints your phone book and then ask who publishes your child's textbook to have a feel for where this is all going.
(-: my Smiley with a quizzical expression. :-)
posted 12.04.06 "

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