Saturday, June 03, 2006

NDC|VBK starts e-Book activity

The Dutch newspaper and book publisher NDCVBK has announced that it will acquire the activities of New-E-Publishing BV, a production company and a web shop of e-Books, by June 1, 2006. The activities will be directed towards the titles of the book publishers of NDCVBK such as Zomer&Keuning, Kosmos, Ambo, De Fontein, Van Dale Lexicografie and others. Van dale is the only subsidiary in the company that has published an e-Book in the past (1994). VBK publishes 2000 book titles annually. However, New-E-Publishing will also continue to work for other companies such as Kluwer.

NDCVBK is the first Dutch publisher to take e-Books serious. So far a number of book publishers have tipped their toe into the water, but have never gotten serious about it. And no one of the other publishing companies such as PCM were seriously interested to acquire the production company and webshop. That NDCVBK acquires the company does surprise the market, especially as the book publishers of the VBK group are not the most progressive new media movers.

So books are obviously not the only reason for the acquisition. By acquiring New-E-Publishing also the newspaper part of the company gets a lot of special knowledge about the e-readers like the iLiad for the newspaper and magazine business. Although the manufacturer of the iLiad had to postpone the introduction till July - according to its own press release, but it will be till August at the earliest, according to other sources – NDC will be able profit of the knowledge of the e-Book company.

Yet I have been questioning the wisdom of New-E-Publishing being acquired. It is still early days in the e-Book business in the Netherlands. New-E-Publishing has been operating like a printer, working for third parties. Now New-E-Publishing will have NDCVBK as main contractor and do third party work, for as long as the assignments are not yet strategic assets to the third party. Who wants to have the competition know exactly how many copies have been sold againg what price and what productions price. As soon as the market will be developing this might be a hindrance to New-E-Publishing and an opportunity for a new player, who stays independent.

All in all, the acquisition should fire up the spread of e-Books and newspapers on digital paper readers for some time. And NDCVBK dared to do it.

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Blog Posting Number: 397

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