James Murdoch out as head of U.K. publishing unit
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — James Murdoch is giving up leadership of News Corp.’s scandal-plagued U.K. newspaper publishing business.
The son of company chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch had been executive chairman of News International, the publishing unit of News Corp. that has been most directly affected by a phone-hacking scandal since last summer.
He gives up that title and will relocate to the company’s New York headquarters, keeping his corporate title as deputy chief operating officer. The company said he will now focus on its pay television businesses and broader international operations.
Tom Mockridge, CEO of News International, will retain that title and report to News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey.
Shares of News Corp. (NWS) were up 2% in morning trading following the announcement.
Laura Martin, an analyst at Needham & Co. who follows News Corp., said the stock’s rise is due to investor hopes that the company might finally get out of the print business. The company’s publishing unit, which includes both newspapers and books, accounted for only 11% of company earnings in the first half of its current fiscal year.
“Investors don’t like the newspaper business,” Martin said. “This increases the chances he [Rupert Murdoch] sells, shuts down or otherwise gets out of their least favorite business.”
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Adobe Using Publishing Franchise To Leverage Tablet Strategy
Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) is taking advantage of the popularity of its software with magazine publishers to push into tablet computing, even though the company’s Flash media player is excluded from Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPad.
Twelve of the top 20 magazine titles sold through Apple’s iTunes store are published using Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite, a subscription service that allows publications created with the company’s InDesign print layout software to be moved to a tablet application without redesign. The service adds interactive content through the open standard HTML5 format, rather than Adobe’s propriety Flash player, and is a key part of Adobe’s campaign to extend its role to the creation of tablet applications.
Apple, Google Inc. (GOOG) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have built HTML5 support into their latest Web browsers. So has the Mozilla Foundation, maker of the Firefox browser. About one-third of the 100 most popular Web sites use HTML5 to deliver some content, such as video, and virtually all applications sold for tablet devices such as Apple’s iPad.
“The primary way we make money is selling authoring tools,” said Zeke Koch, director of product management for digital publishing at Adobe, maker of Photoshop and dozens of other tools for creative professionals. “We’ve figured out how to add features to Photoshop that have made it compelling without owning those standards and we will again,” said Koch.
San Jose-based Adobe released data Monday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona showing that about 600 publishers worldwide are having success penetrating the tablet market using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Of readers who pay for digital magazines and newspapers, 68% are buying content created with the Adobe digital suite.
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Publisher Pearson’s profits fall
LONDON — British publisher Pearson, owner of the Financial Times newspaper, announced on Monday that its net profits fell 26 percent in 2011 after an exceptional gain the previous year.
Pearson said profit after tax dropped to £957 million (1.13 billion euros, $1.52 billion) from almost £1.3 billion in 2010 but the result was skewed by the fact that in 2010 the group sold its stake in Interactive Data Corp.
Sales meanwhile rose six percent to £5.86 billion, boosted by an 18-percent jump at its digital businesses which accounted for 33 percent of total sales.
Pearson, which also owns the book publishing brand Penguin and dominates the market for educational materials, was optimistic about the future due the group’s underlying performance amid dark economic clouds.
“The external environment provides a testing backdrop for these results and all our industries face some degree of turbulence,” chief executive Marjorie Scardino said in a results statement.
“But our strategy and long-term planning for change have helped us to another good year to add to our record of persistent out-performance. We believe those qualities, combined with the commitment and innovation of our people, will continue to serve our customers and our shareholders well.”
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Will J.K. Rowling net wizard profits from switch to crime?
London (CNN) — The publishing industry is buzzing with reports that “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling has made the switch from wizards to killers, after signing a new deal to write a book for adults.
On Friday, Rowling tweeted: “As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much.”
Publishers Little, Brown announced it had snapped up the latest project from Rowling — one of the world’s best-selling authors — who said she was looking forward to “this new phase of my writing life.”
“The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher,” she said in a statement.
Rowling’s choice of Little, Brown publisher David Shelley as editor has led to fevered discussion as to whether her new work will take the form of a murder mystery.
“The rumor is that it’s a crime thriller, and that it could be set in [her adopted home of] Edinburgh; there’s no smoke without fire,” Philip Jones, deputy editor of trade paper The Bookseller, told CNN. “Her new editor, David Shelley, is known for his work with crime thrillers.”
Shelley also works with popular crime writers Val McDermid and Mark Billingham.
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Pan Mac snaps up Amazon bestseller Wilkinson
Pan Macmillan has snapped up UK and Commonwealth rights to Amazon’s self-publishing bestseller Kerry Wilkinson in a six-book print and digital deal.
Wilkinson has already self-published three novels through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing tool, with his first, Locked In, making the headlines when it became the site’s top selling Kindle book over the last quarter of 2011. His other two books in the Jessica Daniel detective series are Vigilant and The Woman in Black, which are also on Amazon.
Wilkinson will keep the e-rights to those titles until a date to be confirmed in September or October, when they will then revert to the ownership of Pan Macmillan. Pan Mac will repackage the first three novels and e-books for publication in December. The fourth book in the Jessica Daniels series, Think of the Children, will be the first it publishes exclusively in February 2013 and will be followed up by the fifth, Playing with Fire. Wilkinson is beginning to write his sixth book today, he told The Bookseller.
The writer is the second big-name self-publishing author Pan Macmillan has snapped up. The publisher bought UK and Commonwealth rights (including e-books) to seven books by self-published US sensation Amanda Hocking last May.
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Jackie Collins experiments with self-publishing The Bitch
Jackie Collins, queen of the glitzy bonkbuster, is the latest bestselling author to take the DIY route, announcing plans to self-publish a rewritten version of her novel, The Bitch, in the US.
Collins told US publishing website GalleyCat that she will self-publish an ebook of The Bitch in March, “a complete rewrite” of the novel, for $2.99 or less. A sequel to The Stud, The Bitch continues the story of Fontaine Khaled, who has “an Arab millionaire among her yesterdays and hard-gambling Nico for all her tomorrows”, as she “calls the shots from her plush limos and black satin sheets”.
“It’s a total experiment. It might sell two copies or it might sell 200,000. Who knows?” said Collins, whose conventionally-published books have shifted more than 400m copies worldwide. “”If it does well, I probably will continue to e-publish, because I have a book of short stories and my publisher says short stories don’t sell.”
A regular Twitter user, where she recently entertained her followers with accounts of her time at the Oscars (“Just told Clare Danes how much I loved Homefront … Too many stars to name drop!! What an amazing night”), Collins said she was drawn to the digital ebook format “just to be innovative and as a gift for my fans”. She will continue working with her US publisher Macmillan for other books, she added. Collins is published in the UK by Simon & Schuster, which released the updated version of The Bitch last month as an ebook. “She read it and thought I’m just going to update this – it was written about 25 years ago and so she went back and rewrote it,” said spokesperson Nigel Stoneman.
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Tintin in the Congo’ publisher attacked for ‘proudly’ publishing ‘racist’ comic
PARIS – French rights group CRAN on Thursday attacked the publisher of the Tintin books for his “very ambiguous” anti-racism after he said he was proud to sell the racially- stereotyped “Tintin in the Congo.”
The head of the CRAN (Representative Committee of Black Associations), Louis-Georges Tin, met the boss of Casterman publishers, Louis Delas, on Wednesday and found “his anti-racist convictions very ambiguous.”
“Mr. Delas said he was sincerely ‘anti-racist,’ which we would very much hope,” the CRAN said in a statement.
“However, when Louis-Georges Tin asked him ‘Are you proud of having Tintin in the Congo in your catalogue?’ he replied without hesitation ‘yes’, which is perplexing,” the statement said.
Delas said “he didn’t see why the CRAN was so shocked by ‘Tintin in the Congo,’ and said that no one he knew was shocked by the book,” it added.
A Belgian court last month refused to ban the sale of the iconic book after a Congolese man, Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, charged it was filled with racist stereotypes about Africans.
The court argued that given the historical context – the book was written during the colonial era in 1931 – the author, Herge, “could not have been motivated by the desire” to discriminate, the lawyer, Ahmed L’Hedim, told AFP.
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