Several deals in late September and October highlighted continued expansion and new directions among the top three providers of distribution and client services to independent and small publishers: Perseus Books Group, IPG, and Ingram.
In three post–Labor Day memos to Penguin Random House (PRH) staff, CEO Markus Dohle detailed the formation of the Penguin Publishing Group, consolidating all Penguin adult trade publishing (Penguin Adult and Berkley/NAL) under one roof. He named Madeline McIntosh, U.S. president and COO of PRH, to head the new entity and said that longtime Penguin president Susan Petersen Kennedy would be leaving at the end of the year.
As SAGE Publications’ CEO and president Blaise Simqu celebrated his tenth year in the job this August, he was also gearing up for SAGE’s anniversary: the company, founded in 1965 by Sara Miller McCune, turns 50 in 2015. It retains its deep connections to the library and higher education world, both through its journals, which comprise 50 percent of the business, and its textbooks, reference works, and databases, which make up the rest.
Say you’re a professional or businessperson who relocated to the United States. Or you’re a student who came to the this country to study. Or you live outside the United States but deal with Americans. You’re reasonably fluent in English, but you want to improve your skills. A new tool, PenguinStacks, is for you. Launched in beta this spring in the United States and Brazil, it takes aim at nonnative readers of English. The 120 titles on the site were assessed by New York University (NYU) PhD linguistics’ candidates and grouped into three levels.
On April 30, Scribd, which launched its “all you can read” $8.99 per month ebook subscription with HarperCollins as the first (and still only) Big Five publisher last fall, announced a deal that brought 1,000 Wiley titles to its subscription service, including all those in the “For Dummies” series.
Mission Bell Media (MBM), a new publisher with a laser-like focus on leadership, took one step further into the public eye, debuting its official website on April 22. MBM is the brainchild of veteran academic publisher Rolf Janke, who founded SAGE Reference, an imprint of SAGE Publications, in 2001 and led it from three titles to nearly 300 over the course of a dozen years. Mission Bell Media combines Janke’s two passions: his own longtime study of what creates compelling leaders and his 30-plus years in academic publishing, which, he said, gave him a unique perspective on librarians leading change in academic libraries and paving the way for the next generation.
When Open Road Media published an ebook edition of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 Newbery Award–winning Julie of the Wolves in 2011, it was business as usual for the company, which had secured rights from George prior to her death in 2012. But HarperCollins sued Open Road in 2011, saying that its 1971 contract superseded Open Road’s and gave it the exclusive right to license the ebook. On March 14, Publishers Lunch reported that Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald had ruled in favor of Harper.
In February, Open Road Integrated Media announced that it would acquire E-Reads, a pioneer ebook publisher founded in 1999 by literary agent Richard Curtis. The deal is scheduled to close April 1, and adds 1,200 titles to Open Road’s catalog of 4,200 digital books. “It fleshes out Open Road’s growing genre list, specifically science fiction and fantasy,” said company cofounder and CEO Jane Friedman, “with authors like Harlan Ellison, Greg Bear, John Norman, Dave Duncan, Dan Simmons, Brian Aldiss, and Robert Sheckley.” The company plans to make the books available to all channels, including libraries, shortly after the agreement takes effect.
In an internal Random House memo, Jen Childs, director of Library Marketing, reported that the department’s latest initiative, First Look Book Club, took off to a roaring start in February, with 2,500 subscribers opting in. The club, a new book discovery tool, is an offshoot of Suzanne Beecher’s Dear Reader, which began offering five-minute chapter snippets in 2000. While many libraries subscribe to Dear Reader for a fee (it is free to library patrons), the First Look Book Club is free to all and goes direct to librarians, patrons, and “book lovers everywhere,” said Childs, with one Random House title featured each week.