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Hachette Book Group drops plan to buy Perseus-Reuters

(Reuters) – U.S. publisher Hachette Book Group, owned by France’s Lagardere SCA, has dropped its plan to buy unlisted Perseus Books Group, a spokeswoman for Hachette confirmed on Friday.

“Despite great effort from all three parties, they could not reach agreement on all of the issues necessary to close the transaction,” she said.

The third party is Ingram Content Group. Hachette said in June it would keep Perseus’s books business but sell its client services business to the unlisted book distributor.

The financial details of the deal were not specified at the time, but according to a report in Publishers Weekly on the deal’s failure, the deal was doomed by complications on Ingram’s side.

Had the deal succeeded it would have given Hachette – the fourth-largest U.S. publisher – leverage in a months-long dispute with e-commerce giant Inc over the pricing of e-books.

Amazon has said its push for lower prices was good for authors, publishers and booksellers.

Upset over ebook prices, the online retailer has delayed deliveries, cut discounts, and even removed an option to pre-order Hachette titles such as “The Silkworm”, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s second crime novel, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Amazon claims that pricing an ebook at $14.99 or $19.99 is too expensive and unjustifiable in most cases and has argued that ebooks priced at $9.99 sold more.

Hachette said in June it would keep Perseus’ books business and sell its client services business to unlisted book distributor Ingram Content Group to form a distributor with more than 400 clients ranging from DreamWorks Press to Harvard Business Review Press.

The financial details of the deal were not specified.

Perseus, owned by private-equity firm Perseus LLC, brings out about 700 titles per year and has a backlist of more than 6,000 books.

Hachette had 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.

Hachette Book Group, Perseus and Ingram Content Group could not immediately be reached for comment.