Author solutions sold to private equity firm

Penguin Random House sold its Author Solutions division to a subsidiary of Najafi Companies, a private investment firm that at one time owned Bookspan and made an offer to buy several hundred Borders outlets after the chain filed the Chapter 11. Terms of the agreement, ended December 31 were not disclosed.

In a brief letter to employees, PRH CEO Markus Dohle said on the sale of Author Solutions, a leader in supported self-publishing services, that “we reaffirm our focus on publishing mainstream books through our 250 prints worldwide, and our commitment to connect our authors and their works to readers around the world.

Author Solutions was acquired by the parent company of Penguin Pearson in 2012 and became part of PRH following the 2013 merger of Random House and Penguin. A class action lawsuit against Author Solutions was filed in the summer of 2013 by several authors who accused the company of fraud. The case was closed at the end of 2015.

Author Solutions has been led by Andrew Phillips, a former Penguin executive, since July 2013; he and his management team remain in place. Phillips said TP current operations will not change after the sale. While thanking PRH for its support over the past few years, Phillips said he was delighted to be part of a company where Author Solutions will be more of the focus.

He noted that the head of Najafi Companies, Jahm Najafi, had published a book using Author Solutions, as had a number of Najafi’s family members. Najafi “believes in our mission to match authors with their audiences,” Phillps said. The company’s main initiatives for 2016, which include international expansion and increasing its number of publishing partnerships, will continue, Phillips said.

Formed by a series of acquisitions from other self-publishing companies, Author Solutions has worked with over 200,000 authors, publishing approximately 250,000 titles. In addition to providing services to help authors produce a book, Author Solutions offers a range of services including cover design, publishing, marketing and advertising.

By the time Najafi sold Bookspan in early 2013, the company backed Resolution, a literary and arts agency that closed in late 2014 and was headed by former ICM chief Jeff Berg. Najafi also made another book-related investment in 2014, when he supported Paula Deen Ventures.

This story has been updated from its original version to reflect new information provided by Author Solutions.

Lola R. McClure