The beleagured boutique digital publisher Byliner has found a solution to their money problems.
Byliner has been acquired by Vook, an ebook startup which specializes in ebook creation and distribution.
Update: Vook and Byliner also sent out an email to Byliner's existing authors (found via Pando Daily) which revealed that Vook will be ending Byliner's subscription service (I thought it was dead already) and boosting royalties. I've added an excerpt of the email to the end of this post.
Byliner is going to be Vook's first in-house imprint. While Vook has published its own ebooks in the past (this is how the firm got its start in 2009), Byliner has in the past acted more of a publisher, working with external authors and companies to develop and publish their work. Byliner will continue to operate as it has before.
Vook has announced that they plan to support Byliner's existing catalog, 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.
That is good news for Byliner's remaining staff and for authors signed with Byliner. This publisher was at one time the pre-eminent boutique publisher of the world’s best short fiction and non-fiction, but it has also been in dire financial straits since this spring. In June Byliner sent out an email which did not say that the publisher was bankrupt but did imply that finances were dire:
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 about 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.
Byliner is Vook's second acquisition this year; in February Vook bought Booklr, an ebook analytics startup. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Letter to authors:
Dear Byliner Authors & Partners,
Today we are announcing that Vook has acquired Byliner. We wanted 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 towards 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 any 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 those 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 interruption.
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.
image by Gastev