Saturday, October 04, 2008


The UK publishing market is bracing for potential credit issues with the wholesaler Bertrams. Bertrams were acquired by Woolworths which appears to be in financial difficulties. Publishers are working with Bertrams to ensure supply to the market but also to protect their receivables and stock. As this article indicates, Bertrams are on very short terms. (Telegraph):
Tim Hely Hutchinson, UK chief executive of Hachette Livre publishing group, confirmed told trade magazine that Bookseller that he was in talks with Bertrams about new credit terms. "Following the sudden removal of credit insurance cover from the Woolworths group wholesalers, we have proposed new credit arrangements that will allow us to continue trading together," he said. Bertrams, which is run by Woolworths' entertainment division EUK, is understood to have been in negotiations with publishers for several weeks over demands for quicker payments to compensate for the lack of insurance cover. Woolworths strongly denied reports that major suppliers have temporarily halted trading through Bertrams, while negotiations over credit terms continued. Trade was continuing "as normal" insisted the spokesman.
From Lambeth (and its not often you say that), apparently the desire to pull the sheep over the eyes of taxpayers is alive and florishing (This is London)
Lambeth Council has been accused of inventing “ghost libraries” to con government inspectors and protect its position as London’s most improved local authority in a scandal dubbed “librarygate”. The accusation is based on the mysterious opening of three book-lending, cultural information hubs, the week before a vital inspection into the quality of the council’s cultural services. The centres - one which lent out no books at all - issued only 25 library books before being closed after six weeks but were still used to bolster figures about library opening times in the audit commission inspection, according to an email sent from a cultural services officer and seen by the Streatham Guardian.
Another bone-headed missive from Forbes' Sramana Mitra on Hardly an objective view of services available to the spectrum of authors and publishers. I didn't bother commenting on the first article she wrote and I am not sure I know why I bother with this one, only, it's FORBES! She signs off with the obligatory blinded me with science (numbers).

What does this mean for the book publishing business going forward? Are we about to see a degree of vertical integration, at least in certain nonfiction genres that have large Web presences? How big a role will Amazon play as it morphs its various on-demand offerings to recruit authors who are also entrepreneurs and Web-savvy marketers? And what about Kindle? While there are no publicly announced numbers about how many Kindle e-book readers have been sold, I know that many early-adopter techies have already standardized on Kindle.

The Techcrunch blog estimates the number of Kindles sold so far to be 240,000. Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney is among the most bullish, calling Kindle Amazon's iPod. In an August report, Mahaney estimated that Amazon will sell 378,000 units this year and that Kindle will be a $1.1 billion business that accounts for 4% of Amazon's revenue in 2009. Pacific Crest's Steven Weinstein believes Amazon can sell more than $2.5 billion in e-books for the Kindle by 2012.

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