Black Classic Deal Is Off

Black Classic Press, one of DiverseBooks.net’s member publishers, said it has cancelled plans to acquire the Howard University Press backlist.

The deal to close the HUP and transfer titles to BCP was announced with considerable fanfare on May 24, but W. Paul Coates, the publisher of Black Classic Press, announced in mid-October that he was forced to walk away from any agreement because Howard University Press had failed to communicate and to consumate the deal. In a news release, the publisher said:

“Black Classic Press (BCP) initially accepted the proposed transfer based on the belief that it would provide cost-saving benefits to the university and that BCP would benefit from its association with the distinguished legacy of Howard University Press. However, since its announcement, the university’s representatives have not provided the assistance or communication necessary to complete the transfer.”

“Further, they have not signed or returned the agreement formalizing the transfer that their attorneys negotiated with BCP. Despite their attempts to finalize the agreement, BCP’s representatives have been frustrated by the university’s silence. “From their earliest conversations with the representatives of the university, BCP’s leadership emphasized that a successful integration of Howard University Press into Black Classic Press depended on responsive communication and cooperation. In absence of either, it is best to make known to all interested parties that Black Classic Press is not a partner with Howard University in any agreement to acquire Howard University Press. All inquiries about Howard University Press and titles it previously published should be directed to Howard University.”

Asked to comment this week, Howard University issued the following statement on Thursday, Nov. 3, through its spokesman, Kerry-Ann Hamilton, Ph.D., director of strategic communications and marketing, Office of University Communications:

“For nearly 40 years, the Howard University Press has published more than 175 scholarly books addressing the contributions, conditions and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent and people of color around the world. The University is committed to maintaining the Press’ legacy, rich tradition and significant works as part of its current academic program renewal initiative, which includes an enhanced focus on Diaspora studies, international affairs, STEM and health sciences. The University is continuing its review of the role the Press will play in its future academic profile.”

Black Classic Press was founded in 1978 by W. Paul Coates. It reprints classic works of African American literature and offers a print-on-demand digital publishing. It specializes in publishing popular and academic works by and about people of African descent. The press currently has more than 100 titles in print and publishes six titles annually. Many of those titles are available on diversebooks.net.

Howard University Press was founded in 1972, making the university the first historically black institution to launch an academic press. The press produced many significant books over the years but had been inactive in other periods of its history. Meanwhile, Coates announced that BCP would publish several titles by authors who canceled their contracts before HUP closed. BCP republished one former Howard title, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, by Walter Rodney, in October.