Staff -- 9/25/00
Login to Sell Medical Unit Assets | HC Acquires Some Element Assets
July Bookstore Sales Up | Sprout Delays Follett Test
Stephenson, Kiernan Rise at Bookspan | Millbrook to Start Imprint Without DK Titles
Bertelsmann Offers Free Computers to Employees
Changes at Dr merVerlag | Stewart House Sold to Former M&S V-P
MediaBay Teams With BAM
Login to Sell Medical Unit AssetsLogin Brothers is in the process of selling the assets of its domestic medical-book distribution company. Login has signed a letter of intent with an undisclosed buyer, and wrote a letter to its creditors earlier this month informing them of its plans to liquidate the distribution company's assets, which primarily consist of its accounts receivable and inventory.
Login president Barry Schreibstein told PW that Login decided to exit the medical-book market because of continuing weak results due in part to the loss of several major accounts over the last two years. He hopes to complete the sale within 90 days. The sale will have no effect on the consumer-book distribution company, LPC Group, or Login Canada.
HC Acquires Some Element AssetsHarperCollins, which had decided against acquiring Element Books before the U.K.-based publisher filed for bankruptcy in August, reached an agreement to acquire certain assets of the company last week. HC will add the approximately 300 titles to HC's Thorsons division, a mind/body/spirit publisher in the U.K. The deal also includes the right to use the Element name.
HC U.K. will handle the publication of the Element titles, although where HC has rights in other countries (such as the U.S.), the books will be distributed there as well. Stephen Bray, managing director of Thorsons, will be responsible for directing the combined Element-Thorsons publishing program, along with Belinda Budge, Thorsons's publishing director.
HC president Jane Friedman said that with the continuing growth of the mind/body/spirit market, the purchase of the Element titles "seemed particularly appropriate."
July Bookstore Sales Up Retail bookstore sales increased 7.5% in July over July 1999 to $1.08 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The gain, while higher than the 5.2% increase posted by the entire retail segment in the month, was lower than increases in May and June and, given the success of Harry Potter, was lower than some analysts had expected. For the first seven months of the year, bookstore sales were up 8.3% to $7.94 billion, while sales for all of retail were ahead 9.6% of sales in the same period last year.
Sprout Delays Follett TestDigital print-on-demand wholesaler Sprout Inc. has delayed its test with the college bookstore company Follett that called for Sprout to install its POD machines in four Follett locations in August (News, Apr. 3). Spokesmen for both Sprout and Follett were vague last week on what was causing the postponement.
Follett's Gary Shapiro told PW only that "we've been working closely with Sprout for five or six months, and we're confident the test will go forward, although we're not sure about the timing." Sprout's Henry Topping also said he expects the Follett test to take place at a later date. Topping acknowledged that the company has had some personnel turnover and said that as with most start-up companies, cash flow is a problem. But he insisted that talks were underway that would solve Sprout's problems. "We're in a quiet period now. I can't comment any further," Topping said.
He had no comment on the suggestion that Borders Group may be the company's white knight. Borders has a 19% stake in the company, and Sprout has installed a system at Borders's Ann Arbor, Mich., headquarters.
Stephenson, Kiernan Rise at BookspanSeveral new editorial appointments have been made at Bookspan, the book club partnership between Doubleday Direct and Book-of-the-Month Club.
Michael Stephenson was named vice-president and editor-in-chief in the Bookspan book development group. He had been editor-in-chief of the former Doubleday Direct specialty clubs. Kathy Kiernan, formerly editorial director of the BOMC book development group, was appointed editorial director; and Ruth Kogan, previously editor of the Literary Guild book development group, was named senior editor.
Nancy Whitin was named to the newly created position of v-p and editor-in-chief, specialty clubs. She had been v-p, editorial director of BOMC special-interest clubs. Andrea D ring was promoted from editor to senior editor, Crossings. Named as assistant editors were Jane Perkins, previously assistant editor of QPB, and Jacqueline Pinkas, who had been editorial assistant with Good Cook and Country Homes and Gardens.
Bookspan also said last week that its year-old Black Expressions Book Club had signed on 140,000 new members in its first year, exceeding initial estimates seven-fold and making it one of the fastest-growing clubs in the company's history.
Millbrook to Start Imprint Without DK TitlesContrary to recent rumors, DK Ink, a children's imprint at DK, will not be sold to Brookfield, Conn.-based Millbrook Press, according to Millbrook publisher Jean Reynolds. The two publishers had in fact been in negotiations for Millbrook to buy DK Ink's backlist, which was to be incorporated into its soon-to-be-launched line of "high-end literary" children's books, but the parties could not resolve one final sticking point. Millbrook's new imprint, to be headed by Simon Boughton, former Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers publishing director, will proceed as planned, however. Boughton assumes his new position October 2.
In related news, Neal Porter, whose last day as v-p and publisher of the children's group at DK was September 15, has launched PorterHouse, an editorial and marketing consulting firm that will also do some book packaging. Also leaving DK is Melanie Kroupa, with her imprint, Melanie Kroupa Books, which was launched at Orchard in 1993. Kroupa will move her imprint to Farrar, Straus & Giroux, effective October 2.
Bertelsmann Offers Free Computers to EmployeesAs evidence of his commitment to the Internet, Bertelsmann chairman Thomas Middelhoff has approved a plan that will offer all the company's benefits-eligible employees a free personal computer for use at home. Employees, including Bertelsmann's 17,000 American employees, can order the computer through the company by November 30. The PC, a Compaq Deskpro, includes unlimited Internet access, a color printer and continuing technical support. Employees will be required to pay income tax based on the $1,275 value of the PC. According to Bertelsmann, it is making the offer because it "wants as many of its employees and their families as possible to experience the new environment in which the company is actively developing new businesses."
Changes at Dr merVerlagThe streamlining of the German trade imprints of the Holtzbrinck group proceeds apace after an attic-to-basement scrutiny of the companies by American consulting company McKinsey and in the context of a sluggish domestic book market. The latest target is Munich's Dr mer, for decades one of the country's most successful commercial houses, twinned with the ubiquitous Knaur reprint line.
Under publisher and president Hans-Peter Ã bleis, who joined Dr mer as part of the Holtzbrinck-Weltbild alliance to take advantage of the latter's distribution reach, hardcover and paperback editorial departments are to be merged, with Knaur editor-in-chief Beate Kuckertz becoming responsible for the Dr mer Knaur general trade list as well. Leaving the company will be Dorothee Grisebach, a skilled international publisher, who will be a consultant to the Holtzbrinck group and particularly to Dr mer Knaur on a nonexclusive basis.
--Herbert R. Lottman
Stewart House Sold to Former M&S V-PStewart House, formerly part of McClelland & Stewart, has been sold to former v-p of sales and marketing, Ken Thomson, only three months after its inception. "I wish Ken all the best with his new company," said Avie Bennett, McClelland & Stewart's chairman of the board. Stewart House was formed in July after Bennett separated the company's distribution business from its publishing operation (News, July 24). "I'm especially pleased that with this agreement, everyone on M&S's former sales and marketing team has found a home, either with Stewart House or with Random House of Canada," Bennett added.
Moving with current trends, Thomson intends to develop complementary, nontraditional bookstore lines such as games, learning products and videos. Stewart House will lose St. Martin's Press as a client after February 2001, but will handle the sales and marketing for Klutz Press and Boyd Mills Press, leading games producer Outset Media and the Champlain Graphics series, Time Passages. Stewart House will continue to employ Canbook Distribution Services for its warehouse, invoicing and distribution.
MediaBay Teams With BAMBooks-A-Million has entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with MediaBay Inc. to feature exclusively MediaBay's downloadable audiobooks, magazines and classic radio programs on its Web site (www.booksamillion.com) and in its stores.
This agreement gives MediaBay a strong presence beyond its own Web store at www.mediabay.com, its Audio Book Club subsidiary (www.audiobookclub.com) and catalogue operations.
In addition to the Web outlet, MediaBay plans to leverage its existing relationships with audio hardware companies, such as I-Jam Multimedia, to help install digital download stations in Books-A-Million stores.
Mike Herrick, CEO and president of MediaBay, told PW, "Right now we're focused on the bottom line, and selling downloadable digital audio seems to be the right way to go. We're testing a kiosk that allows customers to sample old-time radio audio content at the store and download the digital files or purchase what they want on either cassette or CD then and there."
Volume 246 Issue 39 09/25/2000