Tuesday, April 30, 2019

MediaWeek: The Week in Publishing - Cengage, McGrawHill, Jet


On Wednesday, Cengage and McGrawHill announced what may be the last mega merger in the educational publishing market place.  Valued at just over $5B this is an all stock deal and the combined  company will have just over $3B in revenue.  Once completed in early 2020, the company will be named McGrawHill and be led by current Cengage CEO Michael Hansen. (Company) and (Recording)

A first time young adult author pulls her title amid a 'racist' backlash and then reconsiders.  The NYTimes takes a look at the 'close-knit children’s publishing community' and the recent history of bullying and controversy and finds (not surprisingly) that "While there are often controversies simmering in the young adult literary world, the magnitude and speed at which the backlash builds seems to have accelerated, often amplified by social media."

Connecting the anticipated raft of data produced by all the electronic touch points which students of all ages generate may become as easy as a walk-up withdrawal at Fort Knox if publishers have their way. At least that is the conclusion of a recent report by Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) which commented that "its (data about students, faculty, research outputs, institutional productivity, and more) capture and use could significantly reduce institutions’ and scholars’ rights to their data and related intellectual property"  There's more where that came from.

The demise of Jet and Ebony magazine and Johnson Publishing is a real shame but at least all the iconic images in their image library may end up in a museum should 'power couple' George Lucas and Mellody Hobson prevail at the bankruptcy auction (CB).  Although it may not go smoothly.  Lucas is owed $13MM for a loan collateralized by the image library and estimates of the library's value extend to $40MM.

Old line publishers seem in a race to sign open access publishing deals as a means to 'pivot' their business models.  Wiley in Germany and now Elsevier in Norway is the latest announcement and some say Elsevier's deal is akin to that last penguin to jumping off the ice.  But not so fast: This deal is still lucrative for Elsevier and the Norwegians appear willing to pay something for the cost of open access publishing. (FT)

Oh my Wiener!  Suggestions that Anthony Weiner is shopping a picture book are completely incorrect although he is looking for a book deal according to the NY Post.  As a bell weather, "Every Simon & Schuster imprint has passed,” although that really sells S&S short.

The assault (my word) on University Presses generated new news this week with notice that Standford University finds itself short of cash and will withdraw financial support from their University Press.  According to IHEd, the press relies on about $1.6mm in financial support from the university which is 'reliant' on the payout from the University's $26Billion endowment.  According to Provost Drell (who also happens to be a scholarly expert herself) next year's payout is expected to be smaller than usual and that the presses output is "second rate".  (Late word: Drell has announced a funding continuation due to the outcry. IHEd)

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Are you considering an investment in new technology?  Check out my report on software and services providers.  (PubTech Report)



Michael Cairns is a business strategy consultant and executive.  He can be reached at michael.cairns@infomediapartners.com or (908) 938 4889 for project work or executive roles.

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