Month: August 2013

Go Read This | Small ponds

A very smart piece by Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media Partners, one of the smartest thinkers on content there is:

The challenge we face is less about an effort to find the next big thing and more about a series of efforts to accumulate a set of related, smaller things. The good news is, publishers have long been good at sussing out these niches, though more by subject than format

via Small ponds.

Interestingly, I’d argue that two of the most innovative publishers right now, Sourcebooks and Osprey (one on either side of the Atlantic) are doing exactly this by expanding their companies into new niches and sectors in intelligent ways that can be scaled in the face of success. 

 

What Lagardère’s First Half results Doesn’t Say

To be fair, Lagardère’s first half report does draw attention to its success in digital, in fact, on the publishing side, it says the following:

Digital books continued their rise in English-speaking countries, accounting for 34% of Adult Trade sales in the United States (vs. 27% at end-June 2012) and 31% in the United Kingdom (vs. 22% at end-June 2012). Digital books now account for 11.3% of Lagardère Publishing’s total net sales, compared with 8.4% at the end of June 2012. In France, the contribution of digital sales to Adult Trade sales remains low (3.2%), although rising sharply.

But you need to actually work the sums to see what that means. It means that in Fast-half 2013 Lagardère saw €103.61million in digital sales (Based n 11.3% of Net Sales for the division of €907million). So digital is now worth over €100million in net sales to Lagardère. That €100million is €27.59million more than First-half 2012.

That €27.59million represents just over 3% of overall net sales for the publishing division meaning practically all the like-for-like growth in the division and more  than all the reported growth in the division came from digital. Without digital, Lagardère Publishing would be a shrinking business.

Perhaps more interestingly, while digital is clearly growing well, another part of the business is also booming, their Partworks unit. Different ends of the spectrum in some ways, but driven by trends obvious in digital too, branded and licensed content and subscriptions with a healthy dose of direct-to-consumer thrown in for good measure!

Fascinating.

Go Read This | Hardie Grant buys Quadrille | The Bookseller

Interesting move by Hardie Grant. in buying Quadrille it’s acquired one of those interesting properties that has book solid print viability (lovely books) and decent prospects of digital expansion via online niches:

Hardie Grant, set up in 1997, employs 150 staff across offices in Melbourne, Sydney and London. In London, it has a staff of seven, selling Australian books into the UK as well as commissioning new titles. The company previously distributed Quadrille’s titles in Australia.

Stephen King, m.d. at Hardie Grant Books UK said: “We’ve been in the UK now for four years, and are very interested in expanding our reach in international markets. Quadrille is a great fit for us—one of their Carluccio books was the first title we distributed in Australia in our early days.”

Cathie said: “Hardie Grant have been Quadrille’s distributor in Australia for many years, and are already close colleagues of the company, so we are delighted to have found a like-minded, independent partner to take the company forward in its illustrated books and stationery publishing and strengthen its presence in the digital arena.”

via Hardie Grant buys Quadrille | The Bookseller.

For The Record | Consumers, Not Amazon, Were The Winners

I’m growing very tired of seeing the kind of sentiment below (my highlighting):

The company has all sorts of regulatory and competitive concerns, making for a minefield of possible conflicts of interest for the owner of The Post. Amazon has opposed states’ efforts to have e-commerce companies collect sales tax. It was the main beneficiary of the Justice Department’s successful pursuit of five publishers and Apple on antitrust grounds. It is locking horns with major companies like Walmart and I.B.M. And as it expands into same-day delivery of its products, it will come up against grocery chains and drugstores.

via Expecting the Unexpected From Jeff Bezos – NYTimes.com.

In an otherwise excellent piece the NYT continues to allow this spin to go unchallenged. The main beneficiaries are consumers. Yes, per consumer the benefit is small, but when it’s all considered together, it’s enormous!

It is important to acknowledge that because when you do, it reminds you that the biggest losers from Agency pricing was not Amazon, but readers! The consumer was screwed for the benefit of Apple and publishers, not Amazon, readers!

I know, I know, nobody wants to face that fact, but it’s the truth.
Eoin

The Gill Family Takes Full Control Of Gill & Macmillan

Gill   Macmillan   HomeSome of the most interesting news in Irish publishing for some time tripped across my phone line and email inbox last night. The Gill Family has bought out Macmillan’s 50% share of one of Ireland’s largest trade and educational publishers, Gill & Macmillan.

It’s a fascinating move on many fronts. Firstly it’s nice to see such a large element of the Irish trade firmly in local hands, that’s healthy for the Irish industry given how heavily exposed to outside publishers it already is. Secondly it indicates that Macmillan’s strategic interests no longer include holding such a complex position in a joint venture like G&M. Lastly it lays the ground for interesting years ahead as the newly focused Gill (no longer & Macmillan?) faces the challenge of Penguin Random House which controls a large chunk of Irish publishing.


See the full press release below:

RELEASE DATE [ Wednesday 14 August at 10am ]
PRESS RELEASE
Gill family takes full ownership of Gill & Macmillan
The Gill family and Macmillan Science and Education, joint owners of Dublin-based publishing company, Gill & Macmillan, have announced that the Gill family has taken full ownership of the company.

The new ownership structure will have no trading consequences for the business and the Gill family, alongside the company’s Management Team, looks forward to building on its current success. A change in name and branding will take place at a later stage.

Gill & Macmillan was founded forty-five years ago in 1968 when Macmillan acquired an interest in the long-established Irish company, M. H. Gill & Son Ltd. Since then the company has become one of the most prominent book publishing and publishing services companies in Ireland. Publishing educational content for Irish schools and colleges has been a major part of Gill & Macmillan’s activities since its foundation. The company is also Ireland’s largest trade publisher as well as providing distribution services to the majority of the country’s independent publishers.

This development marks the next chapter for the Gill family, whose name has been synonymous with books in Ireland for 180 years, since Michael Henry Gill was appointed printer to Dublin University in 1833. Six generations of the family have now been actively involved in management of the business.

Michael Gill, Chairman of Gill & Macmillan said: “This is a very positive development for the company. Now wholly Irish-owned again and continuing to employ more than 70 talented and energetic people here in Dublin, we are excited by the transformative power and many opportunities and challenges provided by the digital age, both in Ireland and worldwide”.

Annette Thomas, CEO of Macmillan Science and Education, said: “The relationship between Macmillan and Gill has, over many years, been a model partnership of collegiate cooperation and shared business interests in this successful company. Whilst the sale of our 50% holding fits within our greater strategic objectives, we are delighted to maintain the many close friendships which have been forged with our colleagues in Dublin.”

The financial details of the sale have not been disclosed.

-ends-
Contacts:
For Gill:
Teresa Daly, Communications Manager, Dublin, Ireland
+353 (01) 500 9521 / +353 (0) 86 838 3559; tdaly@gillmacmillan.ie
For Macmillan Science and Education:
Sarah MacDonald, Group External Communications, London, UK
+44 (0)20 7833 5672 / +44 (0)7714 916798; sarah.macdonald@macmillan.com
Notes for Editors:

About Macmillan Science and Education
Macmillan Science and Education, part of the Holzbrinck Publishing Group, is home to the Macmillan businesses which empower those with curious minds to achieve great things. Through the provision of high-quality content and services to scientists, educationalists, students and academics around the world, Macmillan is changing the way students learn, teachers teach and scientists discover. Operating in over 50 countries with some 5000 employees, the division consists of Nature Publishing Group (NPG), Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education, Macmillan Higher Education, Digital Science, Digital Education and Macmillan New Ventures. For more information, please see http://www.learndiscover.com.

About Gill
Gill & Macmillan is the most prominent book publishing company in Ireland. Drawing on more than one hundred previous years of tradition and experience, Gill & Macmillan publishes educational content for primary and secondary schools as well text books for university, college and further-education courses. Its trade division publishes widely in history, politics, current affairs, sport, entertainment and lifestyle. The company has met the emergence of digital communication by providing e-book versions its bestselling titles alongside a rapidly evolving range of digital resources and tools for teachers and students. The company also provides a comprehensive distribution service for the majority of independent Irish trade publishers. For more information, please see http://www.gillmacmillan.ie.

Go Read This | Why disruption goes unchecked | Studio Tendra

I see this everyday, small ways in which the old system has become undermined, at the margin. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is huge:

This has already begun to affect existing publishers in minor ways. I know of one example where what was in my opinion the most effective tactic for that genre (subscription website) was taken off the table before the conversation even started. Why? Because one of the authors was already running a subscription website in that niche and they were doing it much much better on their own than the publisher ever would have.

via Why disruption goes unchecked | Studio Tendra.

Go Read This | Will you be in the nine percent of publishers that survive? | FutureBook

It’s a funny thing, but over the last few years I have found myself, occasionally, thinking less radically about the future than I should be and I can’t help but think that this stems from the fact that I am working on building up/rebuilding a legacy publisher. I suppose all of us print dominated publishers are the same. Of course, when I notice it, I scare the hell out of myself and try and snap out of it, but it worries me all the same:

What’s more, even publishing insiders who have a phenomenal grasp of digital may end up still thinking within existing paradigms, cleaving to industry norms despite their best efforts. The same happened in journalism and it’s very hard to combat because we aren’t always aware of our own inbuilt biases and assumptions. To paraphrase journalist Steve Yelvington, human mothers only give birth to alien babies on SyFy.

via Will you be in the nine percent of publishers that survive? | FutureBook.