German publisher Bastei Lubbe is the latest overseas publisher to use digital distribution to enter the U.S. market. Over the next year, the company plans to release 200 e-books and 20 apps into the U.S. According to Colin Lovrinovic, head of international sales for Bastei, the company began a limited rollout over the winter and is now accelerating the pace of its release schedule.
The title mix includes translations as well as books originally written in English. The first titles are all fiction and mostly e-originals, but Lovrinovic said, he “wouldn’t rule out” doing some nonfiction and that the company will also look to acquire digital rights to print books. A large percentage of the list features book series that Bastei is releasing in weekly or monthly installments. One of the series that has been available since the end of January, for example, is Cotton FBI which is being released in 14 bi-weekly episodes at $1.99 per episode. When all the volumes have been released, consumers can buy the complete bundle and Lovrinovic said Bastei is exploring ways to do print-on-demand editions.
The centerpiece of its app program is Netwars, a six episode series that explores “the impending threat of cyber warfare.” Bastei described the cross platform product as one that can be used across a variety of platforms—a graphic novel app, e-book, enhanced e-book, audio download, web documentary or TV documentary –or used individually. Bastei will begin rolling out Netwars May 15.
The U.S. is the second foreign market that Batsei has entered since the company had an IPO last year. Its first country was China where Lovrinovic said the company has been happy with the early reception. The Cologne-based publisher views international expansion of its digital program has an important part of its growth strategy. In five years, Lovrinovic said Bastei would like 50% of its revenue to come from digital content and of that percentage 1/3 to come from international markets with the U.S. the key player. At some point, Lovrinovic said, Bastei expects to "have a team on the ground" in America.