Friday, June 14, 2019

MediaWeek: Publishing News - B&N bidding, EBSCO, Follett, Axel Springer, Paper Shortages, University Presses

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Investors believe the recent bid of $476mm for Barnes & Noble by Elliot Management under values the business (Reuters).   Additionally, ReaderLink - the largest distributor you may not have heard of - may enter the bidding (WSJ).  Investors want the B&N board to consider more options.

EBSCO is moving in to the textbook hosting game with this announcement that they are creating a solution specifically for faculty which will make it easier to select materials for their courses:
EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) announces the release of EBSCO Faculty Select™ (Faculty Select), a single interface for library staff and institutional faculty. Faculty Select makes it easy for faculty to explore Open Educational Resources (OER) and purchasable DRM-free e-books to support their courses. The interface provides the highest quality, affordable course options that drive textbook affordability, access and usability for faculty and students alike.
Follett has also launched a campus 'all access' solution for educational content:
Follett ACCESS is an evolution of delivering over seven years of affordability programs for campuses.  The powerful new program delivers all required print and digital course materials to all enrolled students at a campus as part of their tuition, or course charges, on the first day of class—resulting in lower costs, reduced stress, and greater student preparedness.  By serving over 1,200 campuses in North America, Follett is experiencing demand shift from a course-by-course solution, to a broader full campus participation with Follett ACCESS.
Equity firm KKR really wanted a piece of Axel Springer and have announced a tender offer for all outstanding shares other than those owned by the Springer family and management.  The deal values Axel Springer at just under EUR 7Billion.  The deal is expect to allow Axel Springer to speed up their digital transformation without the constricts of a public (reporting) company (PR):
Axel Springer aims at becoming the leading global provider of digital content and digital classifieds. KKR has significant expertise in the digital and media sectors, an impressive track record of successful investments in Germany and across Europe and will be a strong strategic and financial partner for Axel Springer. KKR supports Axel Springer’s strategy of investing in further growth projects to generate long-term value. Furthermore, the parties are in agreement that Axel Springer will remain a leading voice in independent journalism across all channels, nationally and internationally alike.
 If you attended the BISG annual meeting you will have heard the fireside chat about the state of the printing and paper industry.   Not great is the short answer: Consolidation has resulted in fewer print options for publishers together with capacity issues and in addition paper is becoming more expensive and harder to resource.  Here Forbes takes a look at the paper shortage from the publisher perspective:
Where did this paper shortage come from, and how long will it last? To find out, I asked Danny Adlerman, Director of Production and Manufacturing at multicultural children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books, who’s been with the company since its founding in 1992 and works on 200 active titles, including front and backlist, at any given time. Adlerman said that while the paper shortage was most acute about six months ago, its effects are still being felt, though he’s hopeful it’s closer to being resolved than it was at the start of 2019. While Lee & Low hasn’t seen any significant delay in sending out ARCs and galleys, the shortage has yet to be fully resolved. I asked Adlerman about the causes of the paper shortage and what the possible solution could be.
Troubled university publisher Melbourne University Press has announced their new publishing director Nathan Hollier (SMH):
Hollier, the director of Monash University Publishing, has been named as successor to Louise Adler, who resigned along with five directors in January after MUP turned its back on its previous policy to be a more commercial publisher of books in order to focus on academic work and introduce an editorial board to approve publications. He will start the job on July 1.  Speaking to The Age from Detroit, where he is attending a conference of university presses, Hollier said he didn’t expect the approach he adopted at Monash would differ massively at MUP. "I’m going to try to publish books which are the most relevant and important for our times," he said.
Another University Press in the news recently for the wrong reasons: Stanford University Press was the main subject a recent Stanford faculty meeting.  Leaders want a press that is "healthy and excellent" (Stanford)
The Press moved into the spotlight in April when Provost Persis Drell announced that, while Stanford would continue to support the Press with base funding, the university did not intend to fund the Press’ request for five additional years of $1.7 million in one-time support.
Following faculty concerns, Drell clarified that the university had no intention of closing the Press and that she recommended the formation of a faculty committee to develop a long-term plan to strengthen the Press’ financial and operational model. The provost made additional one-time funds of $1.7 million available to the Press for fiscal year 2020 to assist with this process.
The Press received about $900,000 annually in institutional support from the university’s base general funds and income from a small endowment, and at the senate meeting Thursday, Drell said that support would continue. The Press also receives about $5.1 million in revenue from book sales and other sources; however, that income does not cover its annual expenses
“The challenge we’ve been confronting is that the Press is operating with a structural deficit, which was $1.7 million in 2008, and that has motivated a succession of requests for one-time funding,” Drell said. “There have been attempts to address the structural deficit that have not been successful in the past. We need a strategy and a plan to ensure that our Press is excellent and supported over the long term, and we will be working with the faculty on that.”
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Michael Cairns is a business strategy consultant and executive.  He can be reached at or (908) 938 4889 for project work or executive roles.

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