Monday, May 21, 2012

One of the World's Largest Publishers Debuts North American Launch at BEA

Today’s post is a Q and A with James Franks (Marketing Director) and Robin Pearson (Editorial Director) of De Agostini Publishing.  De Agostini is one of the largest publishers in the world operating in 53 countries with publications in 20 languages, and is organized into specialized areas by type of activity: De Agostini Publishing, De Agostini Books, Editions Atlas France/Us, Digital De Agostini.  De Agostini is launching in the United States in 2012 and making their North American market debut at BookExpo America.  

¡     De Agostini publishes a large variety of books from Children’s books, Art & Hobby Books to Fiction, Scholarly and Travel Guides – will De Agostini USA have particular focus in the US Market? De Agostini is a prolific international publishing company with a long history, so we are very fortunate to have an incredibly deep content pool to draw from. De Agostini publishing USA is a new entity set up to bring this wealth of editorial resource to the US market for the first time. We are not focusing on any specific sector as our publications cover every age group and demographic, but we are looking to develop publishing programs that combine high-quality ‘edutainment’ book series with educational collectables and books-plus items. A great example of this is our Collect-a-Case brand. Collect-a-Case is a unique new publishing concept sold through supermarkets and mass-market retailers - our first launch for the US is Real Bugs! in July 2012. The program consists of a series of Real Bugs! books aimed at kids aged 5-10. Alongside the books we sell 20 different insects and arachnids from around the world, perfectly preserved in lucite (a clear resin), so children can really get excited about the natural history of insects and collect some cool specimens to show their friends and teachers. We would encourage anyone attending BEA to stop by our booth (booth number 2840) and see Real Bugs! for themselves – we guarantee you won’t have seen anything like it before!

¡     What prompted De Agostini to now, in 2012, to enter the US Market? De Agostini publishes in virtually all developed countries around the world and in over 20 major languages, but the USA is obviously a very important piece of the global jigsaw that has been missing – until now. We have spent the last two years studying the market and evaluating the best approach for our product mix, and, with the help of knowledgeable advisor Buz Teacher (former Running Press founder, Publisher and CEO) we feel that we have identified the best products and formats to launch an exciting and profitable publishing program.

¡     What is greatest change from traditional publishing that excites you as a publisher right now? De Agostini has never really been a traditional publisher in the sense of relying on a single publishing model. In Europe our primary route to market is via 'partwork magazines'. These are weekly or bi-weekly mass market publications sold through new stands and supported by huge TV advertising campaigns. Each part contains both original editorial and high-quality hobby items. For example, our recent Cake Decorating partwork contains new recipes in every magazine, alongside the specialist tools readers need to create the recipes. In order to stay relevant and profitable in a fast-moving consumer publishing market we have learnt to constantly evolve and innovate by combining strong editorial with collectibles, hobbyist materials or dvd collections and, lately, through digital innovation. As publishers we are extremely excited about taking our editorial and ‘books plus’ assets and creating innovative new formats for the US market.

¡     What keeps you awake at night in terms of technology and eBooks that you think hurt publishing in a way that has eroded industries like music or newspapers? We do not see digital as a threat to publishing. Our philosophy is to bring traditional publishing and digital publishing together. Customers for our product are buying into an interest, a hobby or a course. To them the boundary between digital and non-digital is a lot less defined than we in the book industry think, or fear. We have proved with our recent launch of Cake Decorating in the UK ( <> ) that the digital/traditional fusion works well. Ultimately, we’re selling people the hobby, not the book. A successful book with digital environment is the future, and that digital environment is not as simple as adding extra pages or content online; in fact we believe strongly that the best way to add a digital component to a product is to let the customers manage the digital side themselves! Empower your readers to create the content - it won't be spelled correctly and the grammar will be often off the mark, but that’s really not an issue for the community. Physical books have advantages over digital ones, Facebook has certain advantages over books, Twitter meets other separate needs - use them all to there own particular strengths and they will all work together to bring the customer one holistic experience - and one last point, the revenue is still going to come from the physical side of things!

¡     What do attendees at BEA need to know about De Agostini that will be good for their stores or libraries? De Agostini is an incredibly creative, innovative and asset-rich company, and we guarantee that you will see products on our booth that you will never have seen before. We think it’s unusual to find a company that specialises in both premium editorial and high-quality hobby items. Not only have we created new ways of offering our products to the US public, we are also keen to work with retailers in all channels to create unique product formats that work for them.

¡     Who do you most hope to meet at BEA this year? We are really looking forward to meeting anybody who is interested in working with De Agostini to bring our amazing assets to market. We have spent the last two years touring the USA talking to many people in the whole supply chain and we have encountered a great deal of enthusiasm about the opportunities still available to innovative publishers in these difficult times. We are on a big learning curve and love to hear opinions, ideas and criticism about what we are trying to achieve. On our stand we will be showcasing a lot of successful product from the around the globe in formats that are just asking to be tailored for the US, so we would love for people to come and tell us "hey, you know what we could do with that...!"


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  2. That would be great to see anyone from a distinguish publishing company.Everyone could be inspired in their stories and marketing experinces.To attend this launching is a grea thing to look forward to.