Author Solutions Purchases POD Publisher Xlibris

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Author Solutions, owned by equity investors Bertram Capital, has continued its strategy of development and expansion in the digital print-on-demand publishing world by purchasing Xlibris, a leading publisher in self-publishing services to authors. The purchase was announced yesterday, Thursday, January 8th, by Author Solutions CEO, Kevin Weiss. The purchase figure was not disclosed.

“ASI is pleased to add Xlibris to our industry-leading portfolio of self publishing brands,” said Weiss. “This acquisition solidifies our leadership position and strengthens our ongoing commitment to offer the world’s most comprehensive set of publishing, promotion and book-selling services to authors.”

Author Solutions acquired iUniverse in September 2007 to add to AuthorHouse, Wordclay and Inkubook. This expands Author Solutions output to some 100,000 titles and includes 70,000+ authors. In real terms, this represents about 5% of all new titles going into distribution this year. This further strengthens their position on rival POD publisher Lulu Enterprises.

According to Keith Ogorek of Author Solutions, “business remains strong”. The months of November and December 2008 were record months for POD publisher AuthorHouse.

John Feldcamp, who founded Xlibris in 1997, will remain with the company.

Although I don’t believe Author Solutions’ recent commercial acquisitions over the past 18 months are driven by the current global recession, I do believe that the continued recession may lead us to see some of ASI’s rivals consider some form of mergers and acquisitions with other POD publishers and author service providers. Certainly, this will not be the last acquisition by ASI.

Authors

4 Comments

  1. Cheryl Pickett said:

    Mick,
    I read about this too, and one of my first thoughts was “so what?”

    True, this could mean less choices for authors. However, many what I call fee-based/POD publishers offer pretty much the same thing anyway. I’m talking about US companies, not sure what’s available elsewhere.

    Most of them use the same printer, and distribution. Main differences are what they charge/how they package their services.

    If Author Solutions wanted to consolidate practices among the ones they own, that could actually be a good thing. Sometimes less choice means less confusion.

    If such streamlining doesn’t happen, I guess I’m not sure what kind of difference it would make to authors.

    Will be interesting to see what happens this year.

    Cheryl Pickett
    http://www.publishinganswers.com

  2. Mick Rooney said:

    Cheryl,

    What particularly came to mind regarding this was the fact that the iUniverse contract had some changes when ASI took over, and as a POD Publishing service for authors, it doesn’t strike me as appealing and author friendly as it used to be.

    Not that AuthorHouse has the best of contracts and prices for authors. Up to now, from the general feedback I had from authors about Xlibris, while their services came in on the more expensive side, generally the contract was sound enough. After what happened with iUniverse, I’d sy Xlibris contract will also be ‘streamline’ and be far closer to the AuthorHouse and iUniverse terms.

    However, I do think ASI moves are more about increasing thir percentage stake in the POD book market. Indeed it will be interesting to see what reactions and how things progress this year.

    Mick.

  3. Robin Bell said:

    Mick,

    After reading Cheryl’s comments I have some thoughts.

    It appears that POD services are beginning to mirror big publishing, whereby smaller firms have to sell to larger ones in order to survive. This could evolve into a situation where only a very few exist, and with similar terms for authors.

    But distribution is the key to success, and Amazon has clearly indicated its intention to be the big player here. It would be a dreadful future if all authors had to use Booksurge, with terms that mirror what mainstream publishers, both large and small, have had to endure.

    If ASI have struck a deal with Amazon, it could eventually come to resemble Booksurge. Scary thought.

    Robin Bell

  4. Mick Rooney said:

    Robin,

    In the commercial publishing world, throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, we witnessed numerous big fish traditional publishers subsuming smaller independent publishers, to a point where the subsumed imprint lost all its previous identity.

    I think you’re right – for the past year we are seeing a similar trend now with companies like ASI starting with some of the meaty POD fish (AuthorHouse and iUniverse). Of itself, it’s not neccessarily groundshaking, but rather, more what the motivations are by ASI – clearly a control and increase on the business market share. Business in publishing are now taking far more interest in digital POD publishing in a way they never did before.

    As you’ve pointed out, the further down the chain you go, the more idiocentric and individual the POD companies become in regards what services they offer authors, from an author driven thread-mill to the companies who actually have a genuine involvement in seeing their authors actually sell books. I’m thinking more about POD publishers like Authorsonline in the UK, Booklocker in the US who actually screen ms on submission and will not touch an author if they do not believe they have the willingness or wherewith-all to sell their own books. It’s that kind of service that I fear we might lose in all this. Though some within the POD publishing industry might frown or snigger at this kind of service from the likes of Booklocker, and indeed question their business sincerity to help authors sell their books. That is perhaps why I refer to it as ‘idiocentric and individual’ as a business model. The frowners and sniggerers (sic) see it as a novelty from a POD publisher, and to a degree they are correct.

    It’s difficult to know in this current economic downturn which POD publishers are going to make a better fist of things. My money will always be on those who have some form of vested interest in their authors selling books rather than those who see the frontline of their business as lodging the cheque for book set-up services (full stop!).

    The Amazon/Booksurge moves don’t seem to have developed as worryingly as we first feared, but then that can quickly change if similar terms are laid at the door of the large traditional publishers.

    Mick.

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