I became aware of the news from Twitter. Publishers’ Weekly tweeted the news that the two imprints of Angry Robot will be immediately closed: Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint and Exhibit A, a crime/mystery imprint. In their statement, they explain that because those imprints weren’t able to find their footing (or insert similar analogy) in the market, that they will be closing immediately. No further titles will be published from those two imprints.
My Twitter feed was then awash with tweets of sympathy for the authors. A good synopsis of the reaction can be found at Storify. One of the authors only found out that they were without their publisher late last night and posted their reaction on their Tumblr.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an author in the middle of a series to find out that you are without a publisher and now left trying to figure out what your next steps are. The Bookseller talked to author Kim Curran about her reaction, who stated, “I’m shocked and devastated to learn that Delete – the last in my Shifter series – won’t be published by Strange Chemistry in August as planned. I hope I will find another way to get the book out to all my readers who’ve been so supportive over the years. And my heart goes out to everyone affected by the closure.” As far as I am aware of, I didn’t have any highly anticipated novels that were to be published by Strange Chemistry or Exhibit A. But I feel for those readers who now don’t know if they will see the conclusion or the next installment in a series that they were enjoying.
I was curious when this news broke as to how often imprints are closed. So I did a quick Google search to see what I could find. Now, I’m no expert in researching, but I found an article just from last week about an imprint from the Hachette Book Group closing, Business Plus. In that instance, again, market constraints pushed the closure, in particular the battle with Amazon (which is a whole other issue deserving a separate post).
A few other hits came up about small publishers closing their doors or people discussing the fate of publishing companies. I didn’t want to begin linking to articles from one to four years ago, but they exist. I’m sure if I had the time, I could really delve into the internet and resurface with more articles about the closing of imprints.
While this is a very sad occasion and I feel for the people who worked for those imprints, it appears that this is not an isolated incident. As one person tweeted, publishing is filled with all kinds of things that not necessarily could happen, but DO happen. And it’s important to remember that agents don’t just serve an author in finding their publisher but in helping when crisis strikes.