Friday, 8 February 2013


Honey, I Turned the Penguin into a Partridge!


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Penguin Books continues its global expansion into the global self-publishing service sector in partnership with Author Solutions (ASI). Pearson, owners of Penguin Books, bought the giant self-publishing service provider last year for $116 million from Bertram Capital. Just recently Penguin Books revamped and relaunched its own self-publishing imprint, Book Country, courtesy of ASI’s technical development team.
 

Yesterday, Penguin Books India, in partnership with ASI, announced the launch of Partridge Publishing, a print and digital self-publishing service imprint. Partridge Publishing is specifically aimed at Indian authors looking to self-publish their books in this market. Partridge will offer various publishing packages and include services like editing, book design, formatting, publicity and marketing, as well as e-book distribution and online print distribution.

Interestingly, I do recall when Pearson first purchased ASI last year that it was stressed Penguin Books and Author Solutions would remain entirely separate entities. It may be the case in words alone, but I’ve seen little demonstration of this over the past few months. According to Penguin Books India President and CEO, Andrew Phillips, yesterday:


“Since Author Solutions joined the Penguin family, we’ve been focused on their international expansion and India is an obvious starting point, given the active and enthusiastic writing community. We are delighted to be working with them to offer high quality services priced appropriately for the Indian market.”


Shouldn’t Penguin Books be focused on the expansion and strategy of Penguin Books, and not newly arrived little brother, ASI? It seems to me parent Pearson is letting the big children babysit the younger ones. In a very definite effort to align the two companies, Penguin Books India’s submission page includes self-publishing information and links to Author Solutions along with its standard traditional submission guidelines. The main homepage banner now sports a large sliding advert for Partridge Publishing. The days of large publishing houses being somewhat coy about mentioning or directly touting their self-publishing imprints are long gone. Just like the logo of Simon & Schuster’s Archway Publishing imprint, Penguin’s Partridge Publishing makes it loud and clear who is running the show, even if in reality your book manuscript only ever passes through ASI hands.

Partridge – A Penguin Company!

Andrew Phillips adds the usual (dis)claimer in these fair times of large houses launching self-publishing imprints:



“In addition, Penguin will be monitoring Partridge titles with hopes of picking up authors for the Penguin list. I have no doubt that Partridge will be a huge success.”


To be fair, I’m referring my judgement for another year or two as to whether many of these new self-publishing imprints from traditional publishers really become the talent feeders of the future for the industry. I’ve yet to see a convincing set-up from a large publisher which places the discovery of new writing talent as the primary goal, rather than as an additional revenue stream. And, above all, does not include an Author Solutions partnership in The Self-Publishing Honeypot. Penguin did try it with Book Country, an in-house operation, but then they went and allowed ASI to Booktango it.

Are you listening Stephen Page of Faber and Richard Charkin of Bloomsbury?

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