By Edward Nawotka
Like an annual rite of passage, yesterday featured one of the Frankfurt Book Fair’s signature events: the CEO talk. This year, Brian Murray, the president and CEO of HarperCollins, was given the honor, not coincidentally on the very day HarperCollins announced the launch of HarperCollins Germany in Hamburg. The new publisher is an extension of the German operations of Harlequin, recently acquired by HarperCollins.
“There were a number of reasons we were excited to combine with Harlequin. When looking at the translation market, we were always faced with do you build or do you buy? With the changes in the digital landscape, with the online distributors going around the world, we thought there was a real opportunity to go beyond the English language,” said Murray. The first HarperCollins Germany trade list will be launched next year with 50 titles.
Harlequin has a strong global brand oriented toward women, “and should really help us hit the ground running in Europe,” said Murray. “Here in Germany, Harlequin has 30 years’ experience, so our learning curve will be very short.” But this also extends beyond Europe: relying on Harlequin’s infrastructure, HarperCollins will publish Daniel Silva in 16 languages around the world.
“Our mantra internally is ‘how do we make one plus one make three,’ and that’s what we are going to strive to do here,” said Murray.
“We are as broad as the largest trade publisher in the world, but with half the revenue. This [international expansion] gives us a stronger position from which to buy world rights, when the opportunity presents itself, and to expand our revenues and our reach.”
Echoing last year’s CEO talk, delivered by Random House’s Markus Dohle, Murray reiterated the resilience of print publishing. “The book publishing industry has done a very good job and collectively has transitioned from primarily a print business, to print and digital,” he said. “It has been interesting to see how digital and print varies by genre: fiction is very digital, nonfiction is not very digital. But I think there is going to be an equilibrium between digital and print, and I am certain print is going to be here for a long, long time.”