Staff -- 11/13/00
Court to Review Tasini v. NYT Decision | RH Starts Backlist Reprint Effort
Wilson Exits TaylorWilson | Sales Up, Losses Down at Chapters
Trudy Gets New Funding | Brooks Leaves BN.com | Sales, Losses Up at Audible
New Cookbook Publisher | Antonangeli G s to G&D
Pets.com, MotherNature.com: Both Go Out of Business
CSP Acquires Women's Press
Court to Review Tasini v. NYT DecisionThe Supreme Court has decided to take on the thorny issues surrounding digital copyright after agreeing to review an appellate court ruling that the New York Times and other media firms do not have the right to republish the work of freelance writers in electronic databases without first getting the writers' permission.
The Supreme Court has agreed to review Tasini v. The New York Times, the unanimous 1999 ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that found that publishers could not reuse freelance material in online databases and CD-ROMs. The Second Circuit's ruling overturned a previous ruling that was in the publishers' favor. The defendants also include Time Inc., Newsday and two database companies. Publishers claim that if the Second Circuit's decision is allowed to stand, they will have to pay huge infringement penalties and withdraw large amounts of information from online databases.
Jonathan Tasini, president of the National Writers Union, told PW that he was confident the Supreme Court would support the appellate decision. "I think the Court wants to step in now and resolve these issues."
Emily Bass of the firm Gaynor & Bass, one of the lawyers representing the six freelance writers who originally filed the suit, told PW she was "a little surprised" that the Court would accept the case in light of the Second Circuit's unanimous ruling. "It's unusual, but hopefully the Court will make the Second Circuit's decision a national rule." Bass said if the case proceeds without delays the Supreme Court could hear oral arguments by the spring and issue a ruling by the early summer.
RH Starts Backlist Reprint EffortRandom House Inc. has started a "back to press" program for backlist titles. Under the program, which began last month, RH will reprint a limited number of copies of titles that have not appeared in the company's catalogue for up to several years. The initiative, which started with 500 books, was made feasible following the consolidation of all of RH's inventory into its expanded Westminster, Md., distribution center. The completion of the warehouse provided RH with more room to devote to extra shelves for slow-moving titles. In addition, Berryville Graphics has installed a digital printing system that will allow RH to print, store and ship titles from the warehouse. RH will print short runs of the titles and keep them in inventory rather than follow a print-on-demand model.
Wilson Exits TaylorWilsonTaylorWilson Publishing, a Houston book publisher that was formed this summer to acquire the consumer titles from Gulf Publishing (News, Sept. 25), lost one of its principals last week when company president John Wilson resigned. Wilson said "a change in publishing direction" at the company prompted his resignation. Wilson said he was uncertain what his next move will be, but noted that he would like to stay in publishing.
Larry Taylor, chairman of TaylorWilson, said the company will initially focus on becoming the premier publisher about Texas, and will branch out over time. Dave Hamrick has been named publisher for the company, and Taylor will assume Wilson's presidential responsibilities.
Sales Up, Losses Down at ChaptersTotal revenues for Chapters Inc. rose 4.1%, to $154.1 million, for the second quarter ended September 30, 2000, and the company had a net loss of $7.8 million in the period, compared to a net loss of $8.1 million in last year's second quarter, a figure that excludes a $35.5-million gain from the sale of Chapters Online.
Despite a 0.5% decline in sales in Chapters' retail division to $140.9 million, the division reported an operating profit of $400,000 in the quarter, the first time the Canadian chain has recorded a second-period profit in its retail unit. The company said the earnings were due to reductions in inventory, supplies and staffing costs. Sales were led by a 7.0% increase in Chapters' superstore operation, to $92.9 million, due to new store openings that offset a 1.9% decline in same-store sales. Sales through traditional stores fell 14.0%, to $41.2 million, because of the closing of 30 stores and a 5.9% decline in comparable-store sales.
Sales at Chapters Online jumped to $12.8 million from $6.4 million, although the loss climbed to $6.4 million from $5.2 million. The Pegasus wholesale operation had sales of $42.1 million in the quarter compared to no sales in the same period in fiscal 2000; revenues in the quarter included about $400,000 in sales to third parties with the bulk sold to other Chapters divisions. Operating loss in the period was $1.8 million, slightly greater than the $1.6-million loss in the comparable period in fiscal '00.
Trudy Gets New FundingChildren's publisher Trudy Corp. has a new lease on life after its board of directors approved a plan that will provide it with $1 million of new loans and/or equity. The initial cash infusion will come from William Burnham, president and CEO of the company, and his brother Peter, who will loan the company $650,000. The Burnham family currently owns 55% of Trudy, and the company also owes the family $2.1 million. After the new loans are in place, Trudy will be indebted to the Burnhams for $2.75 million, and the family plans to ask the company to convert approximately $1.95 million of the debt to equity at a later date. Trudy hopes to receive a second injection of funds from other sources.
Trudy has been searching for new capital since its planned merger with Janex Corp. fell through (News, June 26). Burnham noted that once the loans are in place, "Trudy will be structured to eliminate the negative impact of past merger attempts.Under our valuable Smithsonian license, Trudy's products remain viable and desired in the marketplace."
Brooks Leaves BN.comKenneth M. Brooks Jr., v-p for digital content at Barnes & Noble.com, has left the company to establish his own e-publishing firm, Publishing Dimensions. Brooks told PW that Publishing Dimensions "will assist publishers in high-quality conversion of books to all digital formats, as well as setting up distribution--something none of our competitors do."
The new company has already lined up some customers and has 100 titles to convert. Brooks will be joined at Publishing Dimensions by former BN.com colleagues Kathleen Doody and Eli Willner, who will act as chief technology officer. The company is at 3 W. 16th St., Suite 401, New York, N.Y. 10011.
Sales, Losses Up at AudibleAudible Inc., a provider of Internet-delivered spoken audio, reported that total revenues for the third quarter ended September 30, 2000, rose 83.9%, to $879,170; sales in the company's core content and service areas jumped 426% in the period, to $690,040. Net loss in the quarter was $7.8 million, compared to a loss of $4.3 million in last year's third period.
Tom Baxter, president and CEO of Audible, said the sales increase was fueled by the addition of 10,000 new customers in the quarter, bringing Audible's total customer count to nearly 35,000. For the first nine months of the year, total sales climbed 55.7% to $2.1 million, and the net loss increased to $25.1 million from $8.1 million.
New Cookbook Publisher
Dombrowski acquired the rights to the book from Munich publisher Grafe und Unzer, revamped the recipes for an American audience and had the photographs reshot to introduce more ethnic variety. Other fall titles, all from Grafe und Unzer, include Feng Shui and the 5-Element Kitchen by Ilse Marie Fahrnow et al. and two paperback series of four titles each--Powerfood (including Vitamin Diet and Beauty Food) and Quick and Easy Cooking ( featuring Fondue and Sandwiches).
Six new titles, again all acquired from Grafe und Unzer, are planned for the spring, but next fall's 12 titles will feature titles from other European publishers. "We will continue buying rights until we have a significant backlist that can sustain the cost of developing our own titles," said Dombrowski. The company is doing its own sales and marketing through a network of commissioned reps. "We didn't want to get lost in some one else's catalogue and felt we could do our own marketing more effectively," Dombrowski said.
Antonangeli G s to G&DVivian Antonangeli has been named president and publisher of Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Putnam's Books for Young Readers division. Antonangeli, who will report to division president Doug Whiteman, succeeds Jane O'Connor, who will become editor-at-large for Grosset. Antonangeli had been president and general manager of Reader's Digest's children's book group and before that held a variety of sales and marketing positions at Random House and McClanahan.
Pets.com, MotherNature.com: Both Go Out of BusinessTwo online retailers with ties to the book industry shut down last week. High-profile online pet store Pets.com, 30% owned by Amazon.com, has become one of the first publicly traded Internet companies to go out of business. The company apparently had enough cash on hand to keep going through April 2001, but Pets.com was not expected to turn a profit until at least 2002, and executives were not able to convince investors to guarantee funding beyond next spring.
CSP Acquires Women's PressToronto-based Canadian Scholars Press, an academic publisher, has acquired feminist publisher Women's Press, purchasing its 105-title backlist. CSP will maintain the press as an imprint and will issue new titles that are consistent with the press's vision. Discussions have been in the works since early in the summer for CSP to acquire Women's Press, and the deal finally went through in mid-October.
"It was a well-known publishing fact that Women's Press had been in trouble for awhile now," Ruth Bradley-St. Cyr, CSP's managing editor told PW. "There were a lot of signs... we thought it would be a good fit," Bradley-St. Cyr added. CSP publishes left-leaning, critical analyses focusing on sociology, political science and women's studies--areas that are similar to the works Women's Press had published. It mainly publishes books for third- and fourth-year university students.
CSP, which has 110 titles in print, publishes some 24 books a year. It intends to publish six books a year under its Women's Press imprint--about the same as the press had been publishing before business came to a standstill.
Volume 246 Issue 46 11/13/2000