The Friday Project

The saga of this start-up, which was tipped as a com­pany to watch way back in 2006By The Bookseller., has ended with its key assets being pur­chased by HarperCollins. One might argue that the mat­ter is closed. However, the Bookseller ran an in-depth piece on the débâcleI’m really not sure if it is a débâcle, but I do love these French words. last Thursday. It’s worth read­ing as a closely-described account of the busi­ness from start to fin­ish.

What was The Friday Project?

Taking con­tent from such sites as “London by London” and Tom Reynolds’ blog about life in an ambu­lance, TFP inten­ded to “truly put the inter­net at the heart of our pub­lish­ing strategy”, as pub­lish­ing dir­ect­or Clare Christian said at the time. Editor-in-chief Paul Carr was more bolshy. “We may crash and burn, but it will be because we screwed up,” he declared. “And if we make mil­lions, then it’s our suc­cess.”

It did crash; there is evid­ence of singe­ing. So what went wrong?

Mismanagement in a lot of ways, bad luck I’m sure, and books not doing as well as we’d thought,” says a decidedly shaken-look­ing Christian. “We spent too much money on pro­mot­ing ourselves.”

The evid­ence, as I judge it from this art­icle (and oth­er sources), is that The Friday Project exper­i­enced early growth and made a pre­dic­tion of con­tin­ued growth that did not come to pass. Christian took a gamble in the clos­ing stages — one that appears reas­on­ably sens­ible, a clas­sic ‘tough call’ — but it didn’t pay off.

There are one or two obser­va­tions to make about the whole thing. First, I’m genu­inely puzzled by the extent to which onlook­ers have cel­eb­rated the demise of the com­pany and used the oppor­tun­ity to present their super­i­or busi­ness ideas: pub­lish bet­ter books; spend less money on mar­ket­ing. Yes, there will be many cred­it­ors out of pock­et; but there are too few to account for the vit­ri­ol that one finds in the com­ments sec­tion of any art­icle that men­tions The Friday Project.

Second, from the writer’s per­spect­ive, it’s always use­ful to be reminded of the fin­an­cial dis­aster that awaits pub­lish­ers who put out books that do not sell. I’ve often bemoaned the celebrity mem­oir cul­ture of mod­ern book selling, but pub­lish­ers do have a bot­tom line. (No doubt I’ll have for­got­ten this insight by next week.)

Anyway, the singed rem­nants of The Friday Project will soon re-emerge phoenix-like. I hope it doesn’t stall in the rather neg­at­ive draughts of opin­ion.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

7 thoughts on “The Friday Project”

  1. it had 70-odd titles on its back­list, with 60 more in the pipeline.”

    Ouch, sounds like they went for the shot­gun meth­od and simply weren’t able to move enough units to aver­age out a suc­cess. The Christmas thing sounds a little strange. Reading the art­icle it’s almost like they expec­ted to sell more just because they pro­duced more. They may have been open­ing up new sales chan­nels but the art­icle doesn’t make that clear.

  2. I agree. Nice to see a well thought out and reasoned response to the Friday Project ‘debacle’. I, for one, hope Clare and Scott make a real go of the newly foun­ded Friday Project, rather like the suc­cess story that is, which rose from the ashes of Fridaycities. The con­nec­tion, here, of course, is they both had the same busi­ness dis­aster mon­ger, Paul Carr, involved.

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