Legacy Publisher Buys Self-Publishing Firm

Last week Penguin Group took over Authors Solutions, one of the biggest print-on-demand publishers, with imprints iUniverse and AuthorHouse. This is the first time a traditional book company (now increasing referred to as a legacy publisher) has purchased a self-publishing company.

According to an article on Friday, July 20, 2012, in The Wall Street Journal, the deal is worth $116 million and the self-publishing company will be folded into Penguin and operate as a separate unit. The article quotes Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of Idea Logical Co. a New York-based publishing consultancy, as saying this “constitutes tacit recognition that the legacy publishing model is severely challenged and may not work sometimes in the foreseeable future.”

The article in WSJ goes onto point out that publishing houses once had limited access to their customers’ buying and reading habits. But e-book sales have created a trove of data that-if harvested well-can show publishers how, why and what people are reading. “Authors Solutions is particularly adept at data analytics,” says John Makinson, chief executive of Penguin, “That information if invaluable to publishing houses whose livelihood is determined by staying, ‘on trend.'”

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  • Okay, legacy publishing. self-publishing, ebooks, data analytics. All very confusing and very volatile, but in the end, all this means that people are still writing books and publishing books. You don’t spend $116 million for a non-viable operation. (Okay, sometimes you do, e.g. the Time Warner and AOL merger.) But the good news is that books still matter. And authors have opportunities to get books published and out into the market. And people buy them and read them, even (or especially) if it is on a tablet.

    I’m just glad I don’t have to work my way through all this to get a book published. But authors still have options, if they are willing to work at it. A couple weeks ago, within the space of six days, I went to two book parties for friends whose books were published by legacy publishers and ordered more two books by friends on Amazon of books published by small, I guess, self-publishers. Books ain’t going away. The only discouraging part was that I realized I had 1200 pages to read.

    So, please, everyone, pay attention: stay on trend.

  • Nobody even remembers the names of the companies that once made and sold straight razors nor should we. Likewise, we do not mourn their passing. Soon, large commercial publishing firms will have that same obscurity. Good riddance! They earned it. Long live the king? Bullshit.

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