Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books, Publishers Weekly reports. The publisher already has plenty of works in the pipeline and the freeze is only temporary, according to executives, who offered no indication when it might be lifted. Still, it unsettled literary agents, who say they've never heard of such a dramatic move before.
"I’ve been in the business a long time and at a couple of houses I worked at, when things were bad, we were asked to cut back,” said one. "But I've never heard of anything so public." Industry experts say the move reflects the slowdown in book sales, but wonder how long Houghton can keep it up without its business model collapsing.