Subscribe to The Horn Book

>(Un)block that metaphor!

>”We have turned off the spigot, but we have a very robust pipeline”–Houghton Mifflin Harcourt spokesman Josef Blumenfeld, explaining the company’s rationale for ordering its editors to stop acquiring manuscripts.

No, Joe, what you have turned off is the water supply, rendering both the pipeline AND spigot irrelevant.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Wimpy anon says:

    >Metaphor, schmetaphor. This is scary news for Houghton Harcourt, no matter how they try to play it.

  2. >What goes around, comes surround.

  3. >Well, there goes the ball game! They do have a substantial back list but this is sad news indeed for a worthy house – and for some excellent writers.

  4. >Not that I agree with HM’s decision, but as far as I can see, their metaphor seems more apt than Roger’s. As I see it, the water supply is creative writers, who can be discouraged, but not turned off.

  5. >And when the editors have finished copyediting the manuscripts they did acquire, you can fire them. Or maybe they can work in the warehouse shipping Tolkeins and Curious George.

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >Yeah but HMH is saying they don’t want any more water, which is why I’m wondering what they plan to do with the pipes and spigot!

  7. >Roger, you are fiddling while Rome burns.

  8. >Turns out that it’s the adult books that are being spigotted (that’s like garroting only wetter!). The children’s books are Business As Usual.

    For what it’s worth.


  9. >Jane, how did you hear that? I’m glad, of course…although I also think it’s typical that none of the press coverage mentioned that! Maybe no one asked…

  10. >Yes, The Children’s Books are business as usual. Thank goodness that Harcourt is part of their Realm! Oh, I forgot Allyn Johnston is not! I hope it isn’t a trickle down. LOL!

    Let’s all buy books for Christmas gifts! (I’m preaching to the choir!)

  11. >Elizabeth–am not allowed to say. Trust me. It’s reliable info.


  12. >And several other authors who have spoken to their editors confirm the same.

    So. . .


    PS Which doesn’t mean that shoe number three won’t fall later in the year. Or in 2009.

  13. >And as a matter of fact, the PW article did say that editors could submit book proposals to the editorial board for possible acceptance – not too different from the conventional (pre-Riverdeep) practice.

  14. Roger Sutton says:

    >I guess Josef Blumenfeld was not the only one who did not speak clearly! My point was not to correct the man’s figurative language, it was to show that he used such to make the situation look less dire than it was and–as they so often do–his metaphor bit him in the ass. Language has a justice of its own.

    I asked HMH yesterday to verify, refut or comment upon Jane’s tip but no one has gotten back to me yet.

  15. >see today’s NYT for up-to-date info

  16. >I hate it when it says “this post has been removed by the author.” It moves my imagination into overdrive. Roger lost it, heaped obscenities on the public, then had second thoughts? Or he had inside information about HMH which he was going to reveal, until he was threatened with legal action?

    Or he just looked at what he had written and decided it was boring?

    Not likely, that last.

  17. Roger Sutton says:

    >No, Lois–I was attempting to embed the link to the NYT article and it didn’t work. Have you heard anything you can share with the world?

  18. Roger Sutton says:

    >I did just talk with a Houghton honcho and their response to Jane’s assertion was to say that they had no comment. A smart move, I think. Why HMH ever made this announcement to begin with is one of those publishing mysteries I will never understand.

  19. >I don’t know nothing. I live in the back.

  20. Roger Sutton says:

    >It’s pretty fun to think of Lois Lowry as the Mrs. Danvers of 222 Berkeley Street.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind