News comes out of New York overnight that Brightline, yet another new publisher, has entered the e-book market.
As many have suggested, unexpected players would enter the book business from leftfield. Brightline could represent the first of many. So, why is this significant?
Brightline is headed up by media heavyweights Barry Diller and Scott Rudin. Diller is Chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp and one of the executives behind 20th Century Fox and Rudin an Oscar-winning film and theatre producer.
They have joined forces with Brooklyn tech start-up Atavist, a new company that, as they describe, offers the ‘ultimate creation platform for the digital, mobile age.’ Allowing users to easily produce enhanced e-books and publish to all current platforms. Atavist's client list includes Ted Books, Pearson and others.
As well as media muscle and tech know-how, Brightline have also pulled seasoned publishing pro Frances Coady into the fray. Former VP of Picador and notably Paul Auster’s editor.
This convergence of talent and experience would be impressive enough, but the seed investors in Atavist may also play their part in the venture’s success too. Notably, Google’s Eric Schmidt and former execs from PayPal and Facebook (through their Founders Fund).
Let’s not underestimate how input and support from the world’s largest discoverability tool (Google) could help Brightline/Atavist on their way.
So, we can assume this is an aggressive play, with Diller investing $20 million dollars to build the publishing list and plans to pay big advances to compete for big-name authors.
The NYT piece indicates that Diller and Rudin are already very well-connected with authors, stating, 'Mr Rudin, who frequently works with authors like Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer and Jonathan Franzen to turn their books into films, said he had heard a steady stream of complaints about the opaqueness and resistance to change in the publishing business.'
So, perhaps there will be no surprises where the first ‘big-name authors’ will come from.
Diller goes on to say, 'We are going to lead this with a lot of marketing money and investment. The book business has a concentrated number of players and is unquestionably in transition. There is a possibility here that if we start with a blank piece of paper that you could hit the opportunity that exists in the book business now. '
I think we can safely say that Brightline have big ambitions. Together with deep pockets and influential investors and contacts, it would be hard to bet against them.
Brightline may open the floodgates to more new players from outside of traditional publishing aiming to further disrupt the industry. They will not be alone in noticing the potential rewards of a move into the book business.
Many of these new entrants have a background in technology and media, are well-financed and bring a ‘start-up’ mentality of high-risk/high reward. They should have very few problems attracting the brightest and best publishing talents to augment their new businesses.
Intersting times ahead.
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