We thought the deep freeze predicted by the Observer and others for book publishing this winter would result in more boring blockbuster-hopeful books and lower advances for new and middle-range authors. But a publishing company temporarily suspending the buying of new books is even worse. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, reports the NYT, the "publisher of authors including Philip Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer, Günter Grass and J. R. R. Tolkien, has temporarily suspended acquisitions of new manuscripts." Yet another disaster for people who write for a living, and one less option for laid-off and underemployed professional typists who thought that "getting a book proposal together" might be a decent career move.According to Josef Blumenfeld, vice president of communications:
“There is a freeze-lite,” he said. “There is a way in so it is not a hard freeze but for right now, there is a temporary — call it a freeze if you want.”
He said he could not be specific about what criteria would govern decisions about what manuscripts to buy, but said that editors would have to prove to an acquisitions committee that the book showed concrete evidence of “market interest.”
Predicting the "market interest" most books, of course, has always been next to impossible—hence the "throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks" model of book publishing.