2016 PUBLISHING NEWS ROUNDUP
Here’s our review of an important year for publishing, month-by-month featuring the biggest stories.
PENGUIN MERGES BERKLEY INTO PUTNAM/DUTTON
In what looks to be a response to declining mass market sales, Penguin has merged its Berkley imprint into the unified Putnam and Dutton group. Ivan Held, previously named president of the merged Putnam and Dutton imprint, will now take over the direction of the Berkley Publishing Group.
LEARNLAUNCH, MCGRAW-HILL EDUCATION TEAM UP TO SCHOOL EDTECH STARTUPS
Executives from McGraw-Hill Education will mentor local entrepreneurs as part of a partnership with Boston’s LearnLaunch ed-tech startup accelerator. LearnLaunch offers a suite of services for entrepreneurs developing tech products for the education sector. The company chooses about half a dozen startups for its accelerator program every year, and provides seed funding and a four-month training program at its downtown co-working space.
AMAZON BUYS 26% IN TATAS’ PUBLISHING HOUSE WESTLAND
Global ecommerce giant Amazon has bought a 26% stake in Westland — a publishing house under Tata Group’s Trent — to support the company’s expansion globally and enter new business formats. Westland is one of the largest and fastest-growing publishing houses in India.
GOOGLE QUIETLY SHUTTERS PLAY FOR EDUCATION
Back in 2013, Google launched Play for Education, a program that made it easier for educators to purchase apps and books and distribute them to their students’ Android tablets. Now, this program is coming to an end.
VIRTUAL REALITY INVITES A NEW ERA OF LEARNING TO HIGHER EDUCATION
A team of technology experts at the University of Maryland see an endless horizon of opportunities in education through virtual reality applications.
SCRIBD, AFTER PIVOTING, ADDS 6,000 MACMILLAN TITLES
Scribd, which recently changed its business model, is adding more than 6,000 titles from Macmillan to its subscription e-book service. The addition of the Macmillan titles come on the heels of Scribd’s move to a hybrid subscription model.
SALE OF PERSEUS, TO HACHETTE AND INGRAM, COMPLETED
The sale of the Perseus Books Group has been completed. It was announced in March that Hachette was acquiring the company’s publishing business, while Ingram Content Group was buying Perseus’ distribution arm.
PEARSON FINDS LANGUAGE GAP WITH UNIT SALE
Pearson wants to sell GlobalEnglish Corp, an education business it bought less than four years ago. The decision to offload the business comes as part of a wider strategic overhaul being implemented by John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, who has been under growing pressure from the City after a string of profit warnings.
AMAZON WINS $30 MILLION DEAL TO SELL E-BOOKS IN NYC SCHOOLS
E-commerce giant Amazon won a $30 million contract to deliver e-books to New York City public schools starting next school year. The get will help Amazon introduce its e-books to over a million kids in the nation’s largest school district. If the first three years of the new program prove successful, the deal could be extended to a five-year plan, netting Amazon $64.5 million total.
BLOOMSBURY LAUNCHES 2020 STRATEGY TO BECOME B2B PUBLISHER
Bloomsbury has launched Bloomsbury 2020, a strategy to capitalise on the £3.4bn academic libraries market and reposition itself from “a primarily consumer publisher to a digital B2B (business-to-business) publisher”.
WATERSTONES CUTS E-BOOK DEAL WITH KOBO
Waterstones is to stop selling e-books from its website and instead divert customers to Kobo’s reading platform for digital sales. James Daunt, m.d of Waterstones, said he took the decision because the Rakuten-owned e-book company could provide customers with “ultimately an excellence of service we ourselves are unable to match.”
RACHEL FERSHLEISER JOINS HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has hired Tumblr’s director of publisher outreach, Rachel Fershleiser, to take on the newly created position of executive director of audience development. Fershleiser will report to HMH’s v-p and executive marketing director Adriana Rizzo.
AMAZON UNVEILS ONLINE EDUCATION SERVICE FOR TEACHERS
Just ahead of the back-to-school season, Amazon plans to make a major foray into the education technology market for primary and secondary schools, a territory that Apple, Google and Microsoft have heavily staked out.
STORYTEL BUYS SWEDISH PUBLISHER NORSTEDTS FOR £12.5M
Subscription audiobook and e-book streaming service Storytel has bought Sweden’s oldest publisher, Norstedts Förlagsgrupp, for £12.5m from Swedish co-operative union and retail group KF (Kooperativa Förbundet). The acquisition is the latest in a number of deals for Storytel in the company’s bid to “speed up growth”.
HACHETTE UK BUYS MOBILE GAME COMPANY NEON PLAY
Hachette has bought mobile games development studios Neon Play in a “substantial” acquisition. Hachette CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson has said the acquisition “could be one of several” for the company in the app space. Neon Play was founded by co-owners Oli Christie and Mark Allen in Cirencester in 2010 and to date has created over 30 games, including Paper Glider, Flick Football and Panic Traffic London, attracting over 60m downloads.
BLOOMSBURY REVENUES UP 9% LAST QUARTER
Bloomsbury’s total revenues have increased by 9% year-on-year in the three months ended 31st May 2016, driven by the children’s publishing sector within its consumer division, the publisher revealed in a trading update this morning (13th July). Meanwhile, the company anticipates an increase of £500,000 in profit from its Australian market from March 2017.
AUDIBLE UNVEILS SHORT FORM AUDIO STREAMING SERVICE
In a move that further expands Audible Inc.’s reach beyond the audiobook market, the Amazon subsidiary has unveiled an on-demand, unlimited listening service called Channels. The ad-free service, which is free to Audible subscribers, features curated short-form audio. Non-subscribers can access the content for $4.95 a month.
Amid declining book sales, university presses search for new ways to measure success. The University of Michigan Press, like many university presses these days, is facing two realities. First, there is the perception of the press as an innovator in its field. Then there is the economic reality of being a university press in 2016.
The press shared sales data stretching back to 2005 and strategy documents with Inside Higher Ed, showing its core business — print monograph sales — is crumbling away with no clear revenue source to replace it. Used and rental books are eating into the press’s textbook sales. Returns on ebook sales are downright alarming.
RETAILS SALES UP DESPITE BREXIT
Retail sales are holding up after the UK’s decision to leave the EU. UK print book sales have also held up in July post-Brexit, with sales up 2.3% in value to £103.97m, and up 4.8% in volume to 13.42m books sold in July compared with July 2015.
PEARSON PARTNERS WITH JISC TO SPEED TEXTBOOK TRANSITION TO DIGITAL
Pearson has recently partnered with Jisc, a UK nonprofit organisation that specialises in digital technology for higher education, continuing education and research. This year-long partnership is set to speed up the transition to e-books and to improve the company’s margins.
CHILDREN’S PRINT BOOK MARKET IS BOOMING
2016 may be the biggest year for children’s books for the third year in a row. Print sales for children’s books are at £209m for 2016 year to date. This is 24% of the entire print market and is in the lead of adult fiction by £3m. In terms of quantity, children’s publishing is 33% of the entire market, which means one in 3 books sold this year to date has been a children’s book.
AMAZON HAS CORNERED THE FUTURE OF BOOK PUBLISHING
A recent report from Bowker, the US company that issues International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), shows that self-publishing is growing rapidly. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of ISBNs from self-published books grew by 375%. From 2014 and 2015 alone, the number grew by 21%. And perfectly positioned to take advantage of the growth is Amazon, whose DIY print business CreateSpace has become far and away the biggest self-publishing platform in the United States.
EDUCATION GIANT PEARSON’S SHARES TUMBLE 10% ON SALES FALL
Shares in education giant Pearson tumbled 10% after it reported a slide in sales in its main American market and lacklustre demand for vocational exams in Britain.
PUBLISHING RISKS ‘BECOMING IRRELEVANT’ WARNS PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE BOSS
The chief executive of the UK’s largest publisher has warned that the books industry will “become irrelevant” if it continues to fail to reflect the society we live in.
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE RULES THE CHILDREN’S BOOK MARKET
According to data released by Nielsen BookScan at its October 27 Children’s Book Summit, Penguin Random House had a 31% share of the children’s print book market for the July 1, 2015–June 30, 2016, period, while HarperCollins had an 11% share.
ADULT BOOK SALES FELL IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2016
Sales of adult trade books dropped 2.8% in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, according to figures released by the Association of American Publishers as part of its StatShot program. Sales in the children’s/young adult segment, meanwhile, rose 0.9% in the same period.
SIMON & SCHUSTER TO ACQUIRE ADAMS MEDIA
Simon & Schuster will acquire Adams Media, a nonfiction-focused publisher based in Avon, Mass., from F+W Media. Adams Media’s current VP of books and content, Karen Cooper, will lead the Adams Media imprint at S&S as VP and publisher.
STAGGERING £25M FALL IN LIBRARIES SPENDING REVEALED
A total of 67 libraries have closed in Great Britain this year, while library funding has been slashed by £25m, figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) have revealed.
ANDY LECOUNT TO JOIN HARPERCOLLINS
Andy LeCount will begin his new role as vice president, director of sales for general books at HarperCollins on December 29. LeCount comes to HarperCollins from the Hachette Book Group (HBG), where he was serving as executive director of chain stores.
HIGHWIRE PRESS BUYS SEMANTICO
US scholarly publishing company HighWire Press has bought Brighton-based technology and services company Semantico for an undisclosed sum. HighWire, which was founded within the Stanford University Library in 1995, and launched a new UK office in Belfast last March, described the acquisition as a “milestone investment”.
It plans to keep Semantico’s offices in New York and Brighton, with Semantico employees continuing to serve their current customers. Read the full story here
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