By Dennis Abrams and Edward Nawotka
After months of rumors, Digital Book World reports that publishing start-up Vook has purchased short-form eBook publisher Byliner.
Described by DBW as “among the more innovative book publishing start-ups,” Byliner began with the launch of its own subscription eBook service, “partnering with marquee brands on joint projects, launching a serials imprint, and winning accolades doing so.”
But this June, as The Digital Reader reported, Byliner sent out an email implying that it was having financial difficulties:
“We’ve struggled to reach the level of growth we’d been hoping for the business, and thus we’ve begun conversations with possible partners from the future of Byliner. We’re working to find a good home for our platform and your stories, and we’ll be in touch shortly with specifics about your titles.”
Which led to this week’s announcement:
“Vook, Inc. is pleased to announce it is acquiring Byliner, the pre-eminent boutique publisher of the world’s best short fiction and non-fiction. Vook’s proprietary publishing and data-driven marketing platform powers the publishing programs of the world’s leading media companies and brands including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, and Thought Catalog. Byliner is joining Vook as its first in-house imprint, launching the next step in its plan to expand its platform to a growing universe of authors and independent content creators.”
“We are excited to welcome Byliner’s authors to Vook,” said Vook CEO Josh Brady. “Acquiring Byliner is our first step towards applying everything we’ve learned from powering large brands’ digital publishing programs to create a new publishing model that empowers authors to publish faster, market smarter, and keep more creative and financial control of their work.”
According to Vook’s press release, “Until now, Vook has used its enterprise-level technology and data to create, distribute, and promote over 5,000 eBooks in partnership with leading brands, publishers and media companies. With the acquisition of Byliner, Vook will support the existing titles and acquire new projects for release under the Byliner imprint.”
“We have always been huge fans of Byliner’s writers and books. We’re looking forward to working with Byliner writers to publish more titles, and to adding new writers to the imprint,” said Vook Co-Founder and Publisher Matthew Cavnar.
And as reported by The Digital REader, Vook is doing more than just welcoming Byliner authors to Vook, as this email (found via Pando Daily) makes clear:
Dear Byliner Authors & Partners:
Today we are announcing that Vook has acquired Byliner. We are anxious to share the good news with you first before issuing a press release. As the CEO of Vook, I also wanted to explain what the acquisition means for the future of Byliner and Vook.[…]
As our first step toward giving authors what we believe they deserve from their publisher, we will be increasing your royalty rates across the board to 85% of net revenues. In the coming days, our team will be reaching out to you to answer any questions – and make sure you’re set up to receive your royalties without delay.
In the spirit of ultimate transparency, something we believe is still lacking in the book industry, we’ve included a question and answer section below:
Q: Will Vook pursue Byliner’s subscription program?
A: No. Vook is focused on publishing and promoting books to successful online retailers and maximizing the value of sales through these channels.
Q: What are Vook’s royalty rates?
A: At Vook, you keep 85% of your net royalties. There are no out of pocket costs and no hidden fees.
Q: Will my books remain on sale in the ebook marketplaces?
A: Yes, your books are currently up for sale and will continue to be for sale without subscription.
Q: What about my backlist content that I have licensed to Byliner?
A: Vook will be talking with authors and agents in the coming weeks about ways we can maximize the value of your work. If you’re curious to talk to us right away, you can reach out to Matthew at [redacted]@vook.com
Q: Is there any way for me to track the sales and performance of my book with Vook?
A: Yes! We’re currently customizing our enterprise tracking tools for Byliner authors. Vook will be contacting you with more information soon.
In a press release, Deanna Brown, President of Byliner said, “Byliner has built a quality brand and content business that set a new standard for digital publishing. As a recognized leader and innovator in the eBook marketplace, Vook’s team and technology is a perfect fit for Byliner authors.”
Byliner is one of those companies that an amazing array of content for the right price. — initially at least. It’s subscription service offered true value and we were big fans. Now, the service has shifted to an a la carte model, with individual pieces prices starting at .99 per piece — it is perhaps less a value, but more valuable to authors. And if they pursue their second serial sales channel, it might offer even more long-term value.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.