Tag Archives: trade publishing

Bloomsbury Spark – new e-book only imprint for Bloomsbury

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Bloomsbury Publishing has launched a brand new imprint called Bloomsbury Spark. The imprint will be for Young Adult novels and will be one of the first imprints in publishing to publish ebooks only. The first set of digital books will be released in September 2013.

According to the article in The Bookseller, Bloomsbury Children’s head Emma Hopkin said:

“We’ve seen a great increase in our digital sales in both the US and UK, in particular for YA titles, and we realised there was no YA-dedicated digital list, and Bloomsbury can offer local marketing around the globe for these titles.”

Bloomsbury has offices all over the world. Most notably in New York, New Delhi, Sydney and of course, London. By having such a vast presence in some of the world’s biggest cities for publishing, it will be interesting to launch the imprint and see where it is most successful. It is thought that the imprint will aim to publish 40 titles per year once the imprint is launched this autumn. With bestselling YA novels such as Twilight and The Hunger Games having been released by Atom and Scholastic, in the past, it shows that there is a massive potential success for the imprint when it launches.

Little, Brown already has an ebook only imprint, Blackfriars. With new electronic devices being launched and the potential of smartphone technology, digital will continue to rise. I think the main question is, which publishing houses will follow suit, next? Although Little, Brown and Bloomsbury appear to be some of the first publishers to adopt digital imprints; academic publishers such as Cambridge University Press and their Cambridge Books Online – a digital ebook platform which was launched in 2010 – show that are also adapting to the digital world.

Does this pose a danger to print books? Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t think that the public have fully embraced digital just yet. It’s all still quite a new concept and there are still issues with pricing, as well as a danger of the market being too saturated with products for people, publishers and other companies, to have fully taken everything digital on board. People still like the comfort and beauty of having a physical book in their hands.

Having recently attended a book talk in which Audrey Niffenegger talked about her new book, Raven Girl, (more on that, later!) I had the amazing opportunity of getting my copy of Raven Girl and The Time Traveler’s Wife signed. How would authors sign a digital copy of a book? There are still small matters such as this which prevent the book dying out completely. (Ok, so this obviously wouldn’t be one of the only reasons why print books wouldn’t die out, but it is definitely something to consider!)

Moreover, another recent article by The Bookseller¬† where print sales hit a 2013 high, shows that print is doing better than ever. The article mentions that in the week leading up to 9th March 2013, ¬£25.2 million was spent on print books and was up from 1.2% the same week, last year (figures from Nielsen BookScan). So, after look at this evidence I think it’s safe to say that print books are here to stay. It must also be noted that the future is extremely exciting and unpredictable for publishers, regarding digital. It will be interesting to see the success of Bloomsbury’s new digital imprint, and whether the venture will encourage other publishers to do the same in the future.


Fan Fiction Forever?!

Bookselling giant, Amazon, is set to launch a publishing platform called Kindle Worlds in June 2013, which will enable fan fiction to be sold online. The news was announced on The Bookseller recently.

It has been thought that licenses have been obtained from the Warner Bros Television Group, Alloy Entertainment, for popular television programmes such as Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. Kindle Worlds will permit writers to publish any stories associated with the programmes, to be sold online. Rights holders of Kindle Worlds alongside authors of stories over 10,000 words will receive royalties of 35%, whereas a trial will be set up for works of 5-10,000 words, where authors will receive 20% of royalties.

With previous bestselling novels such as the Fifty Shades trilogy, which started off as fan fiction, it would enable popular, well-known television shows to be evolved as people write different interpretations of stories, enhancing characters in different ways and enabling readers to view parts of the stories they love in a different way.

As previously mentioned with the Fifty Shades trilogy being a success due to fan fiction, it proves that fan fiction has the potential to enhance trade publishing in the future, and potentially create more bestselling fiction. I think it will be interesting to see how many fan fiction novels are in the bestselling book charts this time next year.


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…?