Following the bankruptcy of parent company F & W Media in March those of us in the UK were waiting to hear the fate of the UK division, F & W Media International. F & W Media International is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American parent company. They both commissioned their own books and distributed all F & W Media books in the UK. They also had an e-commerce website, SewandSo, that sold craft supplies alongside their craft titles and ran online courses.
F & W Media made the move into the UK in 2000 buying specialist non-fiction publishers David & Charles (est. 1960). In 2010 they changed the business name to F & W Media International Ltd, but continued to use David & Charles as an imprint name.
Last week F & W Media International was purchased under a management buyout by MD James Woollam and four other members of the F+W International management team. Also joining them is Caroline and Martin De La Bedoyere, directors of former competitors Search Press, another leading UK craft publisher (Disclosure – Search Press is the publishers of my books). When asked about this surprising partnership Woollam said that the De La Bedoyere’s are involved as private investors and that there is no formal partnership between the two businesses. He welcomes them bringing the knowledge and experience they have gained from running an independent craft publishing company into the new business.
The new business is returning to the former name of David & Charles.
“It remains a tremendously well-respected brand in publishing and is the imprint on many of the books currently in print. The brand has always been synonymous with values of quality, excellence, and innovation that will be an important part of our new company,” explains Woollam.
Woolam also confirmed that all the book staff from F & W Media International have transferred over to the new business. Furthermore, all book contracts with F & W Media International authors will be honored without any changes to the terms. After the transition to the new business is complete, they will be looking to commission new books for 2020 and 2021. Initially, they will continue to focus on the craft industry but Woolam doesn’t rule out exploring other areas in the future.
“David & Charles has published in probably every non-fiction category that exists over the years. We intend to review the opportunities to revisit other categories in due course and will pursue those where we think there is a commercial opportunity to publish great new books.”
When asked about what assets from F & W Media International were purchased by David & Charles Woollam confirmed that the focus of the sale has been the UK books business, including the back catalog which will continue to be sold, reprinted, and distributed. In time they intend to review the backlist to look at opportunities for new editions and new publishing opportunities. He said they have no intention to sell off any backlist titles.
David & Charles will also be running the online education joint venture with the Royal School of Needlework.
The purchase did not include the ecommerce side of the business, SewandSo, which announced its closure a couple of weeks ago. However, the notice on the SewandSo website says it is securing a new home in the next few weeks so it may be that this side of the business will also be purchased and relaunched at some point in the future.
Fiona Pullen is the owner of the popular UK sewing site, The Sewing Directory, and author of Making & Marketing a Successful Art & Crafts Business.