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The changing landscape of the publishing industry

|Includes: ADM, CBS Corporation (CBS)

The book-publishing industry is undergoing a revolution that few investors are talking about.  Self-publishing is rapidly losing its pejorative connotation, and print-on-demand (POD) is growing increasingly popular.

As a newly published author of a biography of the fomer Archer Daniels Midland (ticker ADM) executive, Mark Whitacre (see markwhitacreagainstallodds.com), I can say with certainty that the publishing industry is undergoing rapid technological disruption.  The old model of an author submitting a book proposal to an agent, who may or may not take your project on (usually not) and who, if he/she/it does, "shops" your book for a publisher is an antiquated business model.  It is being replaced by rapid electronic dissemination of books via self-publishing, eBooks and Kindle, and POD and the elimination of the middleman.  The privately owned German-based media conglomerate Bertelsmann  owns the largest general-trade book publisher in the world, Random House (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_House).  They are hedging their bets by owning a piece of self-publisher Xlibris.  CBS, the company formerly known as Viacom, owns Simon & Schuster (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_%26_Schuster), and a slmall ($350 million) California-based private equity firm called Bertram Capital (see www.bertramcapital.com/about/index.html) is buying up many of the self-publishers and consolidating the self-publishing industry.  I am guessing their exit strategy is to eventually sell to a Simon & Schuster, which otherwise might not survive the transition to the brave new world of publishing.

Disclosure:  no positions in any agency, media or publishing stocks or in any private-equity firms that own any publishing companies or agencies or media companies.