News Shorts
Staff -- 11/6/00

iUniverse, PGW Sign E-Publishing Pact | Amazon Opens in Japan | Earnings Fall at Nelson
New RH Trade Paper Line | Weintz Joins S&S | Tattered Cover to Appeal
Grove May Buy Scottish Indie | Cumello Named Crown Chairman

iUniverse, PGW Sign E-Publishing PactLooking to expand its back-end digital services business, the print-on-demand and subsidy publisher has reached an agreement with Publishers Group West under which PGW will use's proprietary technology and strategic oversight to provide e-book and POD services to PGW clients.

While iUniverse continues to offer authors self-publishing and self-marketing services, Richard Tam, CEO of iUniverse, told PW the new deal is "an effort to build a market presence" for iUniverse's back-end e-publishing technology. The deal will eventually allow iUniverse to digitize thousands of titles by PGW clients. iUniverse offers a proprietary XML-based conversion process that digitizes titles and stores them in a central format-neutral repository until they can be repurposed into whatever format required.

Charlie Winton, CEO of PGW, said the deal was an opportunity for PGW clients interested in seeing their books in electronic form. "iUniverse can provide us with the ability to convert books one time, manage the content and dynamically generate output into any commercially viable electronic format that consumers want."

Tam said the agreement did not include iUniverse getting its own POD self-published titles into stores through PGW. But he also said the relationship was likely to "evolve. We don't make a distinction between e-books and POD books. But that's not part of the agreement at this time."
--Calvin Reid

Amazon Opens in Japan; Microsoft And Kinokuniya to Sell E-booksOn the same day that officially launched its Japanese Web site, Microsoft and Kinokuniya, the large Japanese bookseller with outlets in the U.S., announced that they are setting up an e-book store. Under the arrangement, the new site will offer books in English next spring and in Japanese in the middle of 2001. Chinese e-books will also be made available at a later date. The alliance marks Kinokuniya's first foray into e-books, as well as Microsoft's entry into the Japanese e-book market.

Microsoft e-book development manager Jon Denka said that the two companies will "co-market, co-promote, basically try to create demand for this together." Microsoft will provide distribution, delivery and encryption technology.

The new Amazon site (, which opened last Tuesday, features 1.7 million Japanese and English-language titles. The company said that Japan is already's largest export market, with 193,000 customers and annualized sales of $34 million. Amazon's decision to enter Japan, which had been rumored for weeks, will bring it into direct competition with a number of established sites, including Kinokuniya, which reported that it has 170,000 online members and generates sales of about $3.3 million monthly through its BookWeb service.
--John Mutter

Earnings Fall at NelsonNet income at Thomas Nelson fell 29.2% in the second quarter ended September 30, 2000, to $3.0 million, despite a 15.7% increase in sales to $70.1 million. Although revenue in Nelson's publishing division rose 30.8% to $53.8 million, company chairman Sam Moore said most of the gain came from the acquisitions of Rutledge Hill Press and Women of Faith, and that revenue in its core businesses was flat. Sales in the gifts division dropped 5.7% to $27.3 million as the company continues to restructure the unit. Executive v-p Joseph Moore said the company has begun eliminating unprofitable gift categories, both in terms of products and sales channels. He said the company has been particularly disappointed with sales through mass market outlets.

Sam Moore said that while Tommy Nelson and J. Countryman had a reasonably good quarter, the company was hurt by heavy returns from the John and Patsy Ramsey book, TheDeath of Innocence, as well as high returns from Gwen Shamblin's Rise Above. Bible sales were up 4% in the period, Moore added.

For the first half of the year, net income was down 31.7%, to $3.8 million, on a 13.4% increase in sales to $146.5 million. Moore said his outlook for the second half of the fiscal year was "guarded," observing that much will depend on how the company performs in the holiday season.
--Jim Milliot

New RH Trade Paper LineRandom House announced plans to launch Random House Trade Paperbacks, a softcover publishing line that will draw titles from the Random House hardcover list as well as from other publishers.

The new imprint will be directed by Ivan Held, who has been named publisher. Held is returning to Random House after three years as v-p associate publisher and director of marketing at Viking. Held will also become v-p, associate publisher for the Random House Trade Group. The new trade paper line will publish about 75 books a year and release its first titles in fall 2001. Held told PW that adding a paperback line "completes the publishing program; it provides continuity for our authors and for the publicity and marketing staff that works with them." He also said the imprint will likely add staff in the months to come.

Ann Godoff, president and publisher of the Random Trade Group, agreed: "A trade paperback line of our own will provide an important element of continuity. We will now have a seamless publishing program from signing a book to hardcover publication to paperback reprint to long-term backlisting."

Weintz Joins S&SWalter Weintz has been named to the newly created position of v-p and deputy publisher of Simon & Schuster, an imprint of the company's trade division. Weintz, who starts at S&S today, will report to David Rosenthal, publisher of S&S.

In his new position, Weintz will be responsible for coordinating the S&S imprint's publishing program as well as helping Rosenthal with administration. He may also acquire titles for the imprint, especially in such areas as reference and illustrated books, an old specialty of his. Rosenthal noted that Weintz "will work with all departments to ensure that every Simon & Schuster book is published with maximum effectiveness."

Weintz started in publishing at St. Martin's in 1977 and most recently spent eight years at Random House before leaving there earlier this year. Since April, Weintz has been senior v-p for operations and publishing at the Internet start-up One-BigTable.

Tattered Cover to Appeal The Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, is appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court a lower court order requiring it to turn over information about a customer's book purchases to police.

On October 20, a Denver district court judge had narrowed the scope of the original search warrant but ordered the Tattered Cover to reveal the contents of one of its shipping envelopes that police had removed from the trash of a suspected drug dealer.

Owner Joyce Meskis commented, "If we turn over this information, our customers will start wondering if we would ever do the same to them."

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) is supporting the Tattered Cover and helping pay its legal costs. ABFFE is accepting financial contributions to support this case. Checks can be made payable to ABFFE and sent to 139 Fulton St., Suite 302, New York, N.Y. 10038.

Grove May Buy Scottish IndieDiscussions about the merger of Grove/Atlantic with the Scottish publisher Canongate have heated up, although no deal had been signed at press time last week. If the acquisition is completed, the deal would bring together two like-minded houses. Based in Edinburgh, where it publishes about 40 titles a year, Canongate currently has sales of around £2 million and a reputation as one of the youngest and hippest publishers in Scotland.

A small publishing house that became independent following a management buyout in 1994, Canongate's list covers fiction, nonfiction, crime and the newly launched Mojo Books, an imprint that focuses on popular music.
--Jean Richardson

Cumello Named Crown ChairmanCharlie Cumello, president and CEO of Crown Books, has added the title of chairman of the board for the discount bookselling chain. Cumello replaces Robert Miller, who, according to the company, "left the board to devote more time to his other businesses." Cumello, former president and CEO of Waldenbooks, joined the company last November.