Tag Archives: mergers

Publishing metaphors

The Bookseller alongside its FutureBook blog recently posted about the Digital Minds conference which took place earlier today, starting this year’s London Book Fair.

Philip Jones reported that numerous metaphors were used to describe the current status of the publishing industry during the conference with the digital transformation of the industry being compared to climate change. Pan Macmillan’s digital director, Sara Lloyd, stated that while digital will pose a threat to certain parts of the business, others will survive and thrive.

I think my favourite was Neil Gaiman voicing that people within the book business need to be like dandelions, ‘spreading seeds and accepting that some will fall on stony ground’. He further reiterated that publishers need to try everything and accept that some things will fail and ‘fail better’. Keeping an open mind in this day and age is key and Gaiman stated that for the ‘dinosaurs’ in the industry, digital could end up making them extinct if they don’t adapt to survive. One of the positives that Gaiman highlighted was the fact that whatever was made would most likely be right, as publishers can make or break rules which are yet to be thought of.

Will Atkinson added that the digital age had slowed down in recent months stating ‘we are in the changing rooms at half time’. The recent articles in The Bookseller reporting the vast rise in print sales, shows that indeed the digital age is slowing down. I feel that the hype of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD release at Christmas has died down somewhat. Whilst digital is still very active, I do not feel that ebooks are mentioned as much as they were a few months ago. I feel that it has reached a stage in its growth where most publishers have acknowledged what is happening in the industry and are adapting accordingly. Sara Lloyd also observed that particularly for self-publishers, they have adapted to the changes, and also voiced three Rs: Recognition of change in the industry, respect for one another and recycling of skills/resources as the world evolved. Certainly I believe that publishers have more respect for one another as they are ‘all in the same boat’. There has been an influx of mergers over the past few months as many publishers/other related companies are joining forces to get through this ‘climate change’ in order to stay afloat.

I also feel that publishing houses across the Trade and Academic sphere have definitely recognised that they need to change. In addition, booksellers have also embraced the change, with obvious examples of Amazon’s Kindle creation and the fact that Waterstones are also selling its competitors’ devices in their stores.

The publishing sector is definitely an interesting place to be at the moment. Who knows what else 2013 could bring…

Mixed Metaphors – FutureBook, digital blog from The Bookseller

Digital Minds: Industry must try more, fail betterThe Bookseller

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So, Amazon has dipped its metaphorical finger into another metaphorical pie.

Personally, I am not too sure I am in favour of the move. I have always thought of Goodreads as being one of those sites where you could simply connect with other readers and book lovers and not really worry about anything as it was a ‘neutral’ place you could voice your literary opinions and discover. Really, it is now just going to be another platform in which Amazon can promote its books and scream at the site’s visitors: ‘Buy me! Pick me!’ (I already get enough of that through my emails!)

What about promoting books from Waterstones and W H Smiths? Bookshops are like precious gems which we need to preserve. It is not that I have anything against Amazon (I use the retailer now and then just like any other person might), but sometimes I feel that as a consumer, things can become clouded by the bigger companies out there and companies (such as Goodreads) can become lost as it is swallowed up by another giant. Still, whilst the move may have many bookworms squirming with annoyance, I guess this is a good thing for Goodreads overall though, right…?


The year of the mergers

Penguin Random House

(Image taken from Aziz Isham, The House of Penguin: Notes on a Publishing Apocalypse)

Penguin Random House

The Bookseller released an article last week reporting how Australia has approved the Random House Penguin merger which was announced in October last year. It has been reported that companies Pearson and Bertelsmann will own approx. half each; the former owning 47% of shares and the latter owning 53%. Of course this means that both companies’ publishing firms across the world will be involved in the merger, including offices in the USA and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, India, China and Spain.

Waterstones and University of Derby

Not only have two of the publishing worlds’ ‘big six’ has joined forces, but other companies in the publishing sector are also coming together. Book retailer Waterstones have of course done deals with e-retailer Amazon in the past in which they have agreed to sell Amazon’s Kindle in their stores. More recently, however, Waterstones has announced its agreement with the University of Derby to launch the first professional qualification in bookselling, which will be the equivalent of a first year in an undergraduate degree.

Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh

The two literary agencies announced earlier in February that they would be joining together to ‘extend their authors’ reach in the new publishing multiverse. Like with the Penguin Random House merger, Curtis Brown has bought a 50% stake in Conville & Walsh. It is not the first time the agencies have worked together though; both have formed alliance on film projects in the past for M L Stedman and S J Watson to name a few.

Predictions for 2013:

Whilst obviously, the Penguin and Random House merger was a big deal in the trade publishing world, however, the end of January saw the prediction that consolidation of academic publishing houses will become more common this year, particularly with the mass rise in digital sales, as well as developments in Open Access. George Lossius, CEO of Publishing Technology told The Bookseller how consolidation is ‘not the sole domain of the trade’ although the consolidation of small publishers into large publishers recently means that the prediction for this to happen in 2013 is more likely.

Other developments predicted is the mass surge in Open Access publishing and the rise in purchasing digital academic textbooks for Universities around the world. Cambridge University Press Chief Executive, Peter Phillips, said that digital educational services were massive, yet the demand for print textbooks and Print On Demand was still popular and was still a growing part of academic publishing, particularly in the Far East and Latin America.

Personally, I think that mergers between publishing houses will continue to change the industry. With the changes in the digital revolution in publishing, large (and small) publishing firms have joined forces to try to enhance the services which they are already providing. In addition, with the rise of giant Amazon, publishing houses should stick together. It is thought that Amazon controls 80-90% of the market, as reported by Aziz Isham, The American Reader (as above). With Amazon controlling such a large part of the market, there are obviously fears that the future of publishing will not extend much further than Amazon. Personally, whilst I do and have used Amazon in the past, I think it is important for publishing houses to still exist! It would be a shame for years of companies’ hard work to be over-taken by Amazon and in addition, I do like to have that choice of being able to purchase my books direct from the publisher – again another service which is increasingly on the rise…

As I have summarised in this post, mergers are affecting ALL aspects of the industry: trade, academic, literary agents and retailers! I guess the interesting game now is, one publishing house at a time, to guess who will be the next merger…?