News Shorts
Staff -- 1/22/01

McGraw-Hill Launches Learning Network | DeBolsillo G s to Plaza y Janés
Audiohighway in Chapter 11 | Harper Signs Deal with
EDC Adds Web-linked Titles, Sales Staff | Golden Acquires Hasbro Rights
Lightning Source, Digital River Ink Pact | Burke Leaves HC
AK Press Gives S.F. Parting Shot

McGraw-Hill Launches Learning NetworkThe McGraw-Hill Cos.' education division has just launched the McGraw-Hill Learning Network, a new Web site geared for the k-12 market. The centerpiece of will be the availability of online interactive textbooks. Six science books are now available in electronic format and additional titles are scheduled to be added throughout the year. MHC is marketing the site to both schools and parents.

The password-protected interactive textbooks can be read by students on a computer and printed out. The e-texts will cost the same as a printed edition, although schools that buy a printed text will get a discount on the interactive title. A $50 printed text, for example, would cost $39.99 for a school with one to four users, and the price per user falls to $19.98 when the number of users tops 30. Parents can buy an e-textbook for $4.95 per month. Buzz Ellis, president of the MHC school education group, noted that e-texts, in addition to offering various multimedia elements, will help "lighten the load" for children who often carry heavy backpacks stuffed with books. also includes a variety of other online tools such as an interactive lesson planner, a Web-based test generator and online activity engines. The network can be used as a communication vehicle for teachers and parents, and features an online store where MHC materials can be purchased.

DeBolsillo G s to Plaza y JanésDeBolsillo, a joint publishing venture between Bertelsmann's Plaza y Janés imprint and the Spanish publisher Planeta, will continue to publish as a paperback imprint of Plaza y Janés, following the dissolution of the alliance (News, Jan. 15).

Plaza y Janés plans to expand its paperback presence both in Spain and Latin America, and will utilize the publishing and marketing staff currently in place.

Among the Plaza y Janés hardcover authors whose new and backlist titles will be reprinted as DeBolsillo paperbacks are Michael Crichton, John le Carré, Mary Higgins Clark, Manuel De Lope and Jose Luis Sampedro. The company also plans to publish a Spanish-language paperback edition of Stephen King's Riding the Bullet.

Audiohighway in Chapter 11With debts mounting and money running out, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. The filing, on January 10, came only a few months after the company fired all but nine employees in a bid to conserve cash, and announced that it was looking for new funding sources or a strategic partner (News, Nov. 27, 2000).

According to its filing, "is in active negotiations with several entities interested in acquiring's assets and/or providing capital to continue operations and services." The company said it anticipates filing a reorganization plan in "the near future." No one from Audiohighway was available for comment last week. The company's top 20 unsecured creditors are owed approximately $1.8 million; the company reported net assets of less than $50,000 and debts topping $1 million. is a digital distributor of music, audiobooks, comedy and radio shows, and news programs. Sales for the first nine months of 2000 were $2 million, with a net loss of $12 million.
--Jim Milliot

Harper Signs Deal with Rightscenter.comHarperCollins is the first publisher to sign an agreement with based on the online rights-trading service's new subscription-based model. Under the agreement, for a one-time annual fee HC will list a minimum of 500 adult and children's frontlist and backlist titles on during the year. Jim McHugh, executive v-p of marketing and strategy for rightscenter, said the new model was established after discussions with publishers. McHugh noted that since publishers do their budgets on an annual basis, it made sense to offer companies the option to sign a comprehensive agreement that would cover a full year rather than charge them on a title-by-title basis; rightscenter's rate remains $250 per active title with no transaction fees.

David Steinberger, president of corporate strategy and international at HC, told PW the company signed a two-year deal with rightscenter after a six-month test that produced "very good results. There was significant enthusiasm from our rights people for the service." Steinberger said the service will be particularly useful in promoting rights activity in secondary foreign markets and
will also give greater exposure to backlist books. Rights directors at all of HC's subsidiaries will have access to the service. "This is a very practical system that helps both buyers and sellers," Steinberger said.
Founded in October 1999, has registered 9,600 members featuring more than 30,000 active titles. McHugh said the company is in negotiations with a number of publishers that are interested in signing comprehensive agreements that will cover a large number of titles.

EDC Adds Web-linked Titles, Sales StaffEducational Development Corp., the U.S. distributor for books produced by the U.K.-based Usborne Publishing, has started offering a new line of titles that are linked to the Internet. The new books are the result of a research effort by Usborne that identified 1,000 educational and child-friendly Web sites. Each new title lists specific sites where children can go to learn more about the book's topic. In addition, users can go to Usborne's master site ( to find links to appropriate sites. The new series launches this month with five books--two 450-page encyclopedias, plus books on sharks, birds and music. "It's a new way to use the Internet," said Randall White, EDC president.

The new titles will be sold through all of EDC's marketing channels including its home business division. With the demise of Dorling Kindersley's family learning division, EDC has added more than 1,000 former DKFL sales consultants to its ranks, giving the company approximately 5,000 home sales people. "I'm very excited about the potential in our home unit," White told PW.

The expanded sales force began to make its presence felt in the third quarter ended November 30, 2000, when sales in the home business division increased 18.5%, to $3.6 million. Sales in EDC's publishing division fell 17.5%, to $1.6 million in the quarter, a decline attributed to a soft retail environment. Total sales for the company were up 4.0%, to $5.2 million, while net income fell to $381,900 from $419,000. EDC attributed the decrease in earnings to the $130,000 it spent to recruit and train the new sales consultants.

For the nine-month period, profits were flat at $1 million on a 4.5% revenue gain to $13.9 million.
--Jim Milliot

Golden Acquires Hasbro RightsGolden Books Family Entertainment has signed a multiyear license with toy marketer Hasbro, allowing it to create coloring and activity books and novelty products for bookstores and mass market retailers. Golden will introduce the first titles, based on Hasbro's Play-Doh, Monopoly, Life, Chutes &Ladders and Candy Land brands, this summer.

In May 1999, Hasbro formed Hasbro Properties Group Worldwide to better extend its toy brands into entertainment and media platforms, including books. It created book concepts, formats and sample storylines for about 20 properties, including My First Games (encompassing young children's brands such as Candy Land and Chutes &Ladders), Scrabble, Monopoly, Action Man, Tonka J and Beast Machines.
--Karen Raugust

Lightning Source, Digital River Ink PactLooking to expand the services it offers publishers and retailers, Lightning Source, Ingram's e-publishing and digital fulfillment service, announced a partnership with Digital River, an e-commerce services provider, to offer a full suite of e-commerce services to book publishers and retailers.

Larry Brewster, COO of Lightning Source, told PW that Digital River will provide a broader array of services than LS has been able to offer in the past. Brewster said Digital River will be able to provide Web site design and hosting as well as transaction management, e-marketing services and customer service.

Ed Marino, CEO of Lightning Source, said the deal will "extend our combined set of services to an even broader industry audience, making POD and e-book titles more widely accessible."

Digital River CEO J l Ronning said the alliance is "a strategic move for both companies" that will allow Digital River to expand the scope of its services to the publishing industry.

Burke LeavesIn a personnel move at HC, Therese Burke will step down as president of general book sales on January 26. Burke has been at HC for four years, during which time she supervised the reorganization of the sales department and helped with the integration of William Morrow and Avon. According to a memo from HC president Jane Friedman, Burke "has chosen to pursue new challenges and opportunities." There was no word of a successor last week.
--Jim Milliot

AK Press Gives S.F. Parting ShotDespite a falling Nasdaq, dot-com-fueled gentrification continues to sweep through San Francisco, displacing many arts organizations and drawing daily attention in the local papers. When AK Press, publishers and distributors of radical political books, had a lease expire last month, the house knew its days in San Francisco were at an end. Its small warehouse in a seedy section of the Mission District is for sale (asking $1.5 million), and the rent on its space is about to triple. "It's not the kind of rent you can pay by selling anarchist books and buttons," explained AK collective member Craig Gilmore. "Six years ago, when our Edinburgh office was searching for a place to begin U.S. publishing, San Francisco was ideal, an educated city of book buyers and activists. That's changing. We're moving to Oakland in January, but we're not going quietly."

When AK heard of the upcoming publication of Hollow City: Gentrification and the Eviction of Urban Culture by San Francisco author and comrade Rebecca Solnit, the publisher knew it was the perfect book-launch party to end its stay. The only problem was that by the time the book was released, AK would be in Oakland. AK signed on to distribute the book and joined forces with Solnit to urge Verso to move up the publication date from March to December. Solnit told PW, "I explained to my editor that if they waited any longer for this title, the audience it was intended for would be totally dispersed and nonexistent."

Collin Robinson, managing director of Verso, said the press was happy to oblige. "We take pride in being a nimble, interventionist publisher, and this is not the first time current events have changed our plans." The first copies of Hollow City arrived at AK the morning of the party, on December 2. The book combines an essay by Solnit on the growing corporatization of the urban landscape with a photo-essay by San Francisco native Susan Schwarzenberg More than 200 people attended the book party where Solnit read excerpts and photos were projected on a 50foot-high concrete wall.

AK Press Inc., which publishes about 12 titles a year, is the U.S. branch of AKA Books Cooperative Ltd., a worker-owned cooperative founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1991. The collective also has an office in London.
--Barbara R ther