Earlier this year the Swedish publishing conglomerate Bonnier expanded its publishing services company, Type & Tell, from Sweden to the UK. Eight months later it is shutting down its UK operations.
It published this notice on its website today:
It is with great regret that we have to announce that Type and Tell UK will cease trading at the end of 2017.
As a result, it is no longer possible to create a new account, and packages and services are no longer available for purchase. All registered users can download files from the Book Editor as Word documents.
Please do this before 9th December 2017 – after this date your T&T Dashboard will no longer be available.
Our customer service centre will remain fully operational until 5.30pm on our last day of business – which will be on 20th December 2017 – so if you have any enquiries about your files or require any further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some fool on Twitter comparing this closure to Pronoun (which announced it was shutting down last week) and saying Amazon is to blame, but he could not be more wrong.
Type and Tell UK was more of a services company than a distributor, and it closed because it could not sell enough services to authors. The Bookseller reports that it had around 500 users in the UK, which was not enough to satisfy Bonnier.
The thing is, this company launched into a very competitive market, with thousands of independent service providers.
Everyone who offered some type of publishing service online, from FastPencil to solo editors and book formatters, competed with Type & Tell and the company talks like it didn't understand the market.
“We are enormously proud of what we have achieved at Type & Tell UK,” Jon Watt, country manager of Type & Tell UK, told The Bookseller. “We set out to create a new kind of self-publishing service – a place where authors could write, make, print and publish quality books with ease and professional help. In six months we have built it into a market leader, collaborating with publishing start-ups and exploring new possibilities for self-publishing."
Type & Tell wasn't new; it operated on the same model as FastPencil and BookBaby.
If its manager could not see that - and the need to differentiate Type & Tell from the competition - then that is probably why the venture failed.