Go Read This | Little, Brown Acquire Constable & Robinson

When I saw this yesterday I thought we’d see more comment, after all it marks the acquisition of one of the more significant independents left in the UK at the same times as one of the other more significant independents (Quercus) has announced that it is for sale.

I think it’s a very smart buy by Little, Brown in that it closes off possible mergers and alliances that might have been more harmful to its interests and builds their list in some areas where, if they are not necessarily weak, they can always be stronger. As others have pointed out C&R has a decent direct to consumer operation which is no doubt attractive in these times of weakening booksellers.

All in all, an interesting move:

In the short term, Constable & Robinson, under Managing Director Pete Duncan who will now report to Little, Brown Publisher David Shelley, will continue trading from its current premises in Russell Square with business conducted as usual.  The transaction has been structured as a purchase by Little, Brown of 100 per cent shareholding in the business, which remains intact as a company.  All its contracts remain valid and will be honoured. There should be no disruption for authors and all arrangements with customers, freelancers, distribution partners, suppliers and other contacts of the house stand as they are at least until fully discussed with the parties concerned.

via constable-and-robinson-little-brown.

Go Read This | Waterstones turns a corner under Russian ownership – Telegraph

A curious take on Waterstones results:

The new Waterstones-branded Café W coffee shops, which have been introduced in 17 stores, are another driver of the company’s growth. “Book sales are far stronger in the Waterstones shops that have a coffee concession,” said Mr Daunt.

But the company’s partnership with Amazon to sell its Kindle e-reader tablets and e-books, introduced in May 2012, does not a make a “significant” contribution to Waterstones’ revenues, according to Mr Daunt. “Both sides are happy with the partnership, but it doesn’t materially change the business,” he said.

via Waterstones turns a corner under Russian ownership – Telegraph.

Go Read This | Apple hit with $840 million damages claim for ebooks price fixing | The Verge

This won’t hurt Apple much financially, even if successful, but the legacy of the Agency Pricing move is still damaging Apple and publishers. As I’ve said it was a stupid move that put publishers on the wrong side of consumers which while attractive in the short term was incredibly damaging in the medium to long term:

Apple has received a new damages claim of over $840 million dollars for conspiring with publishing companies to raise the price of ebooks across the entire industry. The claim, filed Friday in New York by an attorney leading a class action lawsuit on behalf of ebooks customers in 33 states, stems from the US Justice Department\’s successful antitrust lawsuit against Apple that took place in the summer of 2013. Using evidence presented during the course of that trial last year, attorney Steve Berman begins by arguing that Apple owes American ebooks customers a bare minimum of $231 million in damages, and probably far more money than that.

via Apple hit with $840 million damages claim for ebooks price fixing | The Verge.

My Piece For FAQ | Silicon Dock: Are there any spill-over effects for the Irish publishing scene?

I wrote a piece for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s FAQ magazine this quarter about whether or not there was an impact being felt amongst traditional publishers in Ireland from the presence of large tech companies who have made Dublin and Ireland a base of operations in Europe:

The web forms a core part of their businesses in a way that is not yet true of traditional publishers. While they are growing their e-book segments, the latter still do most of their business in paper and print. This crucial difference might be the reason why traditional publishing has not felt much direct impact from the tech firms. Most traditional publishers have little interaction with them and, while the newer and smaller innovative publishers might use their platforms, services and tools, there is not much they can give the tech giants and not much the tech giants can give them.

‘I don’t see that the presence of the large new media and tech companies has had any particular impact on the domestic publishing industry,’ says Ivan O’Brien from The O’Brien Press. ‘They don’t really interact with us, and they inhabit a multi-national space, generally dealing with companies with a whole lot more money than we have!’

via Silicon Dock: Are there any spill-over effects for the Irish publishing scene? | Frankfurt Academy Quarterly

Go Read This | How To Create Value With A New Thing

An interesting piece by Baldur yet again. In lots of ways touching on the dangers of innovation and change to incumbents:

Building up in-house digital product development is risky and expensive, especially at the start when you have to build up the necessary expertise and tools to do the job and change your organisations implicit value network.

The problem is that changing an organisation’s value network is next to impossible without firing everybody (yourself included) and replacing them with different people. Adding individuals who have different values from those prevalent in your organisation won’t change the value network. It’ll just make your new hires miserable before they quit or get fired. Which means that building a top notch, in-house digital product development team is going to be difficult for most publishers.

via How To Create Value With A New Thing | Studio Tendra

Go Read This | Harder, better, faster, stronger | The Bookseller

There is, as ever much to enjoy in reading Rebecca Smart’s analysis over on The Bookseller. One thing that stands out for me though is the ease with which she talks about topics that rarely get flagged up in publishing discussions, things like working capital and cash flow, critical elements in the world of books, physical or digital that perhaps more often than makes sense get relegated to the back room while the cool topic like art, literature and the rest get all the attention and discussion:

The current trade publishing sales process means that money and time are invested in 15 to 18 months’ worth of books at any given point. If we could reduce the length of the pipeline for most of the books we publish we would be able to invest more in each book – and the fact that the business of publishing would become less working capital-intensive would improve its chances of survival and therefore of continuing in its important role of finding and developing talent.

via Harder, better, faster, stronger | The Bookseller.

Of course, it’s easier to say than to implement but it’s a worthwhile goal I think, one worth thinking through and looking at a plan for execution!

Eoin