Liquidised • 3 April 2008 • The SnowBlog
My confusion over the fate of the Friday Project is finally abating. An article in Publishing News gives some illuminating details. Up until this week, I've been a bit frustrated that despite all of the available information pointing towards a liquidation, there were also occasional references to the 'sale of the company'. A phrase like that carries connotations of continuity and survival, and I felt it ran the risk of raising false hopes among creditors (though I understand that those at TFP weren't free to set the record straight). In my mind I was sure the Friday Project was about to disappear for good taking its debts with it. But it seems I was half right and half wrong.
The PN article explains that Harper Collins has acquired enough of the old company to be able to create an imprint of the same name. This clone of the old Friday Project will operate out of the same offices, with most of the same staff, and will retain some of its former list, but from the point of view of paying its bills, it's a different firm. It will start with a clean slate. Which is to say, unless I've misunderstood, we won't be able to ask the new Friday Project to pay the old Friday Project's bills. A line will be drawn under those liabilities. No wonder it took Harper Collins a while to put a deal like that together. I'm pleased for the TFP staff who'll have secure jobs and will once again know where next month's rent is coming from. On the other hand, it will take a bit of getting used to: the idea that the firm's spirit lives on, but not its former obligations.
The other point in that PN article that jumps out at me is the opinion of Antony Cheetham that TFP was under-capitalised. His view seems to be that if they had only had more money to put into advances and marketing they could have broken through into serious profitability. Now he's the expert, and I'm not, but I have to say I've got a very different take on things.
We spend very little on outside marketing because we're too afraid we'll never make that money back. Ditto with advances.
I suppose it's just that Em and I are wimps when it comes to gambling large sums of money - and maybe we'll never have a big win unless we learn to bet big too - but that's just how we see the world. Given that TFP used up perhaps ten times as much capital as we've ever had access to, it's just difficult for us skinflint types to accept that TFP's big problem was that they weren't able to spend more.