Day: June 23, 2006

Random House & BBC Books

Random House have bought BBC books.

You can read the story in Publishing News Here or on Guardian Unlimited Here.

I have to say I have always been jealous of BBC books and their ability to create an instant author platform by leveraging Televion success into the book world. from BBC Worldwide’s site:

BBC Books
BBC Books is a significant publisher of hardback non-fiction and is the UK leader in the food and drink book market. Disappointing trading in 2003/04 was tackled with a major restructure and the business expects to be back in profit in 2005/06.

A number of BBC TV-tie-in titles hit the best-seller lists and sold outstandingly well at Christmas. These included Alan Titchmarsh’s A Natural History of Britain; Venice, based on the BBC 2 series; the family history title, Who Do You Think You Are?; and Grumpy Old Men. The hardback book Auschwitz, by Laurence Rees, immediately became a UK best-seller on publication in January 2005 and is also achieving international success. Editions are published or planned in 13 territories so far including USA, Poland, Holland, France, Spain, Denmark, Hungary and Germany. In France, Auschwitz hit the top ten best-seller list after only ten days on sale.

Overall a good deal for both sides seems to have been struck but I cannot help but feel that Random House have had the best of it, indeed any publisher with the scale of Random House would have been an excellent partner to BBC Books and hence my jealousy!


Dragon’s Den & print publishing

I was up late watching a reprint of Dragon's Den a very fine show from BBC. One pitch struck me as interesting and actually achieved a deal for £175,000 and the backing of one of the Dragon's. The concept was a new publishing 
company and a magazine called Wonderland and the following is the concept from their website:

Wonderland is a uniquely positioned, independent, bi-monthly publication for both men and women spotlighting contemporary visual culture – art, design, film – both the influences and the developments, together with the very latest fashion, shot by some of the most innovative photographers working today. Published every two months out of London, but with worldwide distribution, Wonderland will entertain, challenge and inform – assisting the reader rather than dictating to them, so that they may decide for themselves how to spend those two most valuable of commodities: their time, and their money. By combining new talent with new ideas and higher standards, we will push the boundaries and exceed expectations of what a magazine today can be.


Now forgive me if I don't jump up and down at the idea myself. It doesn’t appeal. But this post is not about that, it is about what this publication shows about publishing and print.

To my mind it shows one possible future of the print product. Exceptional Niche Products. It is in short the route that has taken. It is one side of the market that retains its pricing power. The other more pedestrian titles have very little pricing power especially in the modern market. Walking through Dublin bookshops this week I have been struck by which genres are still expensive and which have dropped in price dramatically. New releases in hardback are still steep as are science fiction and fantasy novels and business but paperback non-fiction and fiction seem to me to be very cheap. Only the stand-out niche publications seem to retain higher prices.

For magazines the calculation is obviously different. Readership is the key to advertising so cover price will remain at least relatively low. But the Niche and up market readership this magazine targets makes for a tempting advertising platform.

I am not sure that Wonderland is necesarily the magazine to take the market nor do I know how successful it has been (It was a repeat after all, the company may be no longer) but Ithink it is important that the implications of this type of effort be considered.