Kensington Publishing is kicking off the new year with an .
They've just bought Lyrical Press, a digital first indie publisher that focused on romance and erotica (with a dash of SF and YA). The deal includes Lyrical Press's 250 title backlist, and Lyrical will continue to operate as one of Kensington's dozen imprints. Renee Rocco, who founded Lyrical Press in 2007, will be Managing Director of the imprint.
Steven Zacharius, President and CEO of Kensington Publishing, has said that Lyrical will continue as a digital-first imprint. "The ability to have a digital imprint that works efficiently like a small independent press is what first attracted me to Lyrical. With Renee Rocco’s cutting-edge expertise in running a small independent press and Kensington's team of talented professionals, we look forward to building new and existing authors while expanding the titles published under the Lyrical Press imprint."
I would expect to hear more deals like this in the coming months. If 2013 was the year indies faced increasing price competition from the major publishers then 2014 could be the year that those indies start getting swallowed up by the bigger fish.
As most economists would tell you it's pretty common for an expansionary period to be followed by a period of consolidation. And since the US ebook market is showing signs of not growing as fast as in past years (perhaps not at all), the increased competition for a finite amount of pie could spur the more successful publishers to start gobbling up their smaller competitors.
In fact, we might have already seen the first of the merger a couple months ago. Inkling bought the specialist digital publisher Open Air Publishing. At the time I thought the latter was acquired more for their skills than the content, but that doesn't change the fact that the merger happened.
The publishing industry has already going through a period of accusation over the past decade, but I think it could become even more pronounced as digital indies start getting offers that are too tempting to turn down.