Another Smart Acquisition By Osprey

Clock this one up to a great real-world play that adds value to an existing portfolio of titles and content while also building on Osprey’s digital potential. Old House seems like the perfect fit for Shire and like some of Bloomsbury’s recent acquisitions the opportunities to create something that extends the brand into digital publishing is very real. Oddly enough too, the acquisition suggests that Richard Charkin’s comments at the ‘Are Publisher’s Relevant?’ debate yesterday about how the new digital age makes strict focus (here’s hoping I didn’t pick him up incorrectly) less important when building list  has a real-life example, Osprey the home of a heritage, a military and a science-fiction imprint!

Rebecca Smart, Osprey Groups Managing Director, said:Old House is my ideal addition to the Osprey family. Weve worked incredibly hard with Shire over the last four years, and with real success, to establish ourselves as a major force in the British heritage market. The addition of Old House, especially bearing in mind our plans to grow and diversify its list, will really help to consolidate our position in that sector.

via booktrade.info – Book Trade Announcements – Osprey Group To Acquire Old House Books And Maps.

Go Read This | Bloomsbury sees ebook sales leap – Telegraph

In what is a fascinating piece for a number of reasons, The Telegraph reports on Bloomsbury’s successes in selling ebooks. I’m struck most forcefully by three things:

  1. Richard Charkin is as refreshingly open, honest and forthright as ever, which is good to see. We still miss his blog though.
  2. Bloomsbury have been playing the game pretty well on the library front and their partnership with Exact Editions seems to be yielding dividends.
  3. Charkin highlights the speed at which older readers are taking up ebooks. I’m not terribly surprised by this, but it is interesting, considering they remain amongst the most loyal readers!

Richard Charkin, executive director, said: “If sales continue the way they have in January and February, which we would fully expect, they are going to be off the scale. If that is an indicator of future growth then we expect digital sales of Bloomsbury titles be as high as 25pc of sales. They could be even higher.”

Bloomsbury, which reported £90.7m sales and £5.5m of pre-tax profits last year, would not reveal what proportion of profits ebook sales were likely to account for in 2011, but it is expected to be considerably higher than 25pc. Digital book margins are higher because there are no printing costs involved nor any extra costs incurred by over-estimating print runs or pulping books with errors in them. “The biggest saving is in cock-ups,” Mr Charkin said.

via Bloomsbury sees ebook sales leap – Telegraph.

Go Read This | Bloomsbury Forms Worldwide Publishing Divisions

This is darned clever!

Under the reorganization, Bloomsbury USA head George Gibson will continue to report to Charkin, but Bloomsbury veteran Alexandra Pringle has been appointed to the new role of coordinating acquisitions for Bloomsbury’s operations in the U.S., U.K. Germany and Australia. “We want world rights where ever possible,” Charkin said, adding at a minimum Bloomsbury expects to acquire all English-language, German and Arabic rights. And, Charkin noted, Bloomsbury won’t do a deal that doesn’t include digital rights. He said the number of titles released in the U.S. annualy could rise as books acquired in other regions are released in the States. In addition to the global reach of Amazon, Apple and Google in digital distribution, agents and printers have also expanded internationally, Charkin said, making it imperative for publishers to keep up.

via Bloomsbury Forms Worldwide Publishing Divisions.

Bloomsbury’s Online Library

Eoin Purcell

Bloomsbury’s launched a new e-lending service
The details are interesting:

How will it work?
• The Bloomsbury Library Online will be sold on subscription – libraries will subscribe to a bookshelf for a year at a time and will pay according to the size of population served.
• New titles will be added on a continuous basis – free of charge within the subscription year.
• Users will click through from the Library terminals or through an online portal accessible via any web browser (including those found on iPhone and Blackberry) anytime, anywhere in the UK.
• Text accessible through screen readers and therefore available to blind and partially-sighted users.

The system is being run in association with the wonderful exact editions. Bloomsbury claim that it will:

transform the relationship between publishers and libraries, and between libraries and readers

PaidContent have pointed out one possible problem:

If there’s a problem, it’s that the ebook platform market is fragmented – Bloomsbury’s library includes only Bloomsbury’s titles while Exact Editions rival Overdrive carries Penguin, Random House, Hachette Livre and HarperCollins – and, though text can be printed, the experience of reading a book in a web browser is pretty unsatisfying if it’s a novel you’re reading.

I’m not sure that the fragmentation matters all that much. What does matter is that Bloomsbury are there first with a clever system that works well and is based on a tried and tested platform.

In fact
I think the existing notes miss three angles on this launch. One, if Bloomsbury can lock in a good number of libraries to their platform, they will have an advantage over their competitor publishers, how many e-platforms will libraries want to use after all?

Two, the installed base of libraries will help Bloomsbury research how readers use e-platforms, the quirks of reading online.

Three, given that Richard Charkin has had extensive experience of building e-platforms or at least of overseeing divisions of a publisher that were building them (I thinking of Nature specifically here but he was a strong proponent of blogging aswell!) I’d bet on this succeeding. It also fits well into the strategy I’ve considered for Bloomsbury previously

Charkin blog book

Eoin Purcell

On a whim
I flew over to London yesterday afternoon for the launch of Richard Charkin’s book. Macmillan, where Richard was CEO prior to joining Bloomsbury, decided to publish the Charkinblog as a print on demand book (and what a book).

The trip was well worth it. I enjoyed the trip, the event itself and meeting people I normally only converse with digitally. I also bumped into Sara Lloyd, Head of Digital @ Pan Macmillan who promised to, and duly did, send on a long mooted guest post (it will go live tomorrow).

I forgot to take a digital camera otherwise I’d have a few pics. All in all a fine evening and a great book. It’s steep in Euro terms at over €50.00 but worth it.

Winding down for the day,
Eoin

Guest Blogger: Richard Charkin

Eoin Purcell

They Can’t Eat You*
One thing I have learned since I started blogging is that asking can result in only two answers; Yes or No. The rest is variation on a theme.

I first learned this when I cheekily asked to meet Richard Charkin, then CEO at Macmillan, for a meeting at a point when I needed advice and direction. He was very active in the blog world, being at the time the only CEO of a major publisher blogging on a daily basis. He agreed and met me for lunch in London and we had a great chat about publishing, blogging and the future.

So, determined not to let his move to Bloomsbury be the end of his blogging as it seems to have been, I e-mailed and asked again. The result is below:

Charkinblog Banner**

Eoin wrote to me a week or so ago asking if I‘d write a guest blog for him. I had a bit of travelling ahead of me (London-Delhi-London-Berlin-London-New York-London) and so agreed to try. Of course I failed to write a word on the planes as I suffered a mixture of lack of inspiration, fatigue and laziness. But now guilt has reasserted itself and blogging is on my mind.

From December 2005 until September 2007, while I was working at http://www.macmillan.com I compiled a blog. I’ve spent this morning editing out possible copyright infringements and writing a preface because, amazingly, Macmillan want to publish a print version (on demand of course) for students of publishing etc. It made me realize how much I owed to guest bloggers and commentators and friends and how I owed Eoin a short piece for his blog.

Yesterday’s London Times had an interesting piece in the Business News section A novel Idea May Not Be Lucrative. The author’s conclusions are hardly earth-shattering. Most novels don’t earn very much money for their authors (or their publishers) but people enjoy writing books for reasons other than money. What is extraordinary is that the piece is the lead article in the business section of a major newspaper. The fiction publishing industry is tiny and hardly any of it is available to investors (in the UK only Penguin, part of http://www.pearson.com , and http://www.bloomsbury.com , my employers are fiction publishers and quoted companies). Sales of some novels are spectacular but even the most spectacular compare in revenue and terms very unfavourably with, for example, a drug, a car, an airline, or an oilfield.

As an industry we should be very grateful for all the attention (and I am) but why this journalistic obsession with the economics of books and fiction in particular?

Thanks Richard. I know that there are a good dozen readers who will be buying that book and they are not students either! A great way to turn on its head our obsession with media coverage. I’ll need to think a little more about this.
Eoin

* Bob Parson’s 16 Rules (corny and wise, a good combination)
** The Charkinblog banner was sourced from http://charkinblog.macmillan.com/

Richard Charkin leaves MacMillan for Bloomsbury

Eoin Purcell

ByeBye Charkinblog
Times they are a changing. Bloomsbury announced that Richard Charkin will join them as executive Director on 1st October:

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc has today appointed Richard Charkin an Executive
Director of the Company with effect from 1 October 2007.

Richard joins the team with responsibility for operations worldwide and with
particular focus on spearheading growth through acquisitions, new publishing
areas and international expansion.

MacMillan also commented and as you might expect, Richard had some words for his own blog:

What it means is that I won’t have to think of something to write about every morning on this blog. Just for the record we’ve had 1,137,267 visitors and generated $338.37 in advertising income. More importantly I’ve made new friends, learned tons and had fun. Thanks to all of you and pip pip from charkinblog.

As if to seal the deal, comments are closed on the post.

Seems like a good move to me
Eoin