Print-on-demand subsidy publisher iUniverse has named Kim Hawley its new CEO, succeeding Richard Tam, who will take over as chairman of the iUniverse board of directors. The company is also withdrawing from the corporate documents business, closing its Campbell, Calif., corporate headquarters—laying off about 36 employees in the process—and shifting all operations to Lincoln, Nebr., where its author publishing services are located.
Steve Dunbar has been promoted to v-p and general manager of author publishing. In addition, Doug Bennett, formerly iUniverse president and COO, is now a "strategic adviser" and will continue with the company for the next few months before leaving. Other senior executives, including Richard Landsman, senior v-p of technology and operations; William Jordan, senior v-p of business development; and Bryan Watkins, v-p of finance, are also working in advisory roles and are expected to depart the company over the course of its move to Nebraska.
The moves mark a reemphasis by iUniverse on its core business—publishing books for a fee—and a retreat from efforts to expand its business to produce corporate documents. Hawley, previously CEO of Action Point, a software developer and content management firm, told PW the firm will not seek new corporate document clients, but will continue to service its current clients. She emphasized that iUniverse would focus on author publishing. "We're too small to do both," said Hawley. "We've been successful in the consumer space. There is an increasing demand to be published and an uptick from consumers for our books." Hawley said the company has published 10,000 authors and claims to have sold more than one million books.
The Campbell office will be closed over the next few months. "It's a lot cheaper doing business in Nebraska," Hawley said. She said the firm will hire at least 10 new people in the author publishing division to support a series of "new book sales and marketing initiatives," which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Hawley said that iUniverse was still not profitable, but she compared its POD business model to the cable TV business. "POD and digital publishing can make niche content viable in a niche marketplace, much like cable technology did in the TV marketplace. We think we can grow by letting these niche audiences know about these books." She claims that the bulk of iUniverse revenues come from book sales.
Barnes & Noble continues as an investor in iUniverse (B&N lost $600,000 in the first quarter on its 22% stake in the company), and Hawley said she expects to work closely with the retailer. "People are absolutely buying our books," she said.