Jun 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

HarperCollins strikes deal with MLK estate for rights to literary archive

Cherry blossoms at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on March 27, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Cherry blossoms at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on March 27, 2021. Photo: Shannon Finney/Getty Images

The estate of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has reached an agreement with HarperCollins Publishers for rights to King's literary archive, AP reports.

The big picture: With the new agreement, HarperCollins Publishers — which released King's first book more than 60 years ago — plans to release works based on King's life and writing, ranging from children’s stories to graphic novels, per AP.

  • The publishing company also plans an annual reissue of the late civil rights leader's “I Have a Dream” speech, with an introduction each year from a different contemporary writer.

What they're saying: “The King Estate is pleased to return the publishing rights to Dr. King’s literary archive to his original publisher,” the manager of King’s estate, Eric Tidwell, said in a statement Tuesday.

  • “We look forward to utilizing HarperCollins’ global footprint to continue the perpetuation of Dr. King’s wonderful legacy through new creative literary projects,” Tidwell said, per AP.

Catch up quick: The King estate had been publishing with Beacon Press since 2009, per AP.

  • Literary agent Amy Berkower, who represented the King estate, said sales had been waning in recent years, per AP.
  • “We felt the books had to be packaged in a much more contemporary way,” Berkower said.
Go deeper