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Pearson to Buy Self-Pub Service Provider Author Solutions for $116 Million

I’ve been saying for the longest time now that self-pub is the future, and today we learn that Pearson agrees. The multi-national publishing conglomerate has just bought Author Solutions, a for-pay self-pub service provider, for $116,000,000.

This company reports that it has 150,000 authors signed up to publish, market and distribute more than 190,000 books in print and digital format. That’s an impressive number when compared t0, say Smashwords 40 thousand authors and publishers, but Author Solution’s stable pales in comparison to Lulu’s million plus customer base.

Lulu isn’t a particularly apt comparison, given that unlike Author Solutions they don’t derive most of their profit from marketing and promotional services pitched to their customers, many of whom are first time self published authors. It almost makes you wonder if Author Solutions was a second choice. TBH, it would be my first; it’s smaller so there’s more potential for growth – especially outside the US, where most of Author Solutions' customer base is concentrated.

Pearson is hedging its bets today on the future of publishing with this purchase, which is its second venture into self-publishing. Late last year Penguin (one of Pearson’s subs) generated a furor in the blogosphere when they added a self-pub service to the author community BookCountry.

And curiously enough, Penguin is going to be the one working closely with Author Solutions, not its parent company. According to the press release, Penguin will benefit the most from this purchase because it will  gain access to Author Solutions' expertise in online marketing, consumer analytics, professional services and user-generated content. Author Solutions is also reportedly going to get to use Penguin’s design, editorial and sales departments.

Penguin will gain access to ASI’s expertise in online marketing, consumer analytics, professional services and user-generated content. ASI will benefit from Penguin’s design, editorial and sales skills, and its strong international presence as it looks to expand outside the US.

This is likely a good thin for Penguin, because it seems like this deal might be a case of fitting a square peg into a square hole (via LJN Dawson):

  • Book Country has been in need of tools/platform on the back end for quite some time. The question in situations like that is whether a company should build those tools itself or buy them.
  • Author Solutions certainly has its own brand(s), but one of its core strengths is providing white-label solutions.

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