Local authors and publishers will get a new and potentially lucrative outlet for their work if a new deal with Apple's new iBooks store is successful.
Integrated media and entertainment company Random Media has signed an agreement with LMH Publishing, the leading general book publisher in the Caribbean, to digitally distribute and sell eight titles from their catalogue of books. The agreement will result in LMH being one of the first Caribbean publishers to have titles available in Apple's new iBooks store that allows owners of iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches to purchase electronic books. The deal is conservatively estimated to bring in US$110,000 ($9.24 million) within the first 12 months for the authors and publishers.
LMH publishes books in a wide variety of genres including fiction, non-fiction, children's titles, educational, travel, culture, sports and cookery. The first titles are intended to be available by the end of September 2010 and will include culture and reference, fiction, non-fiction, and children's books. Among the eight books already available for distribution are The Garrison, Rosehall's White Witch: The Legend of Annie Palmer, LMH Official Dictionary of Jamaican Words and Proverbs, The Official Dancehall Dictionary, Anancy Mek It and Marley and Me.
"We are very excited about this venture. Technology is to be embraced and it's essential moving forward that we keep up with global trends, and tap into emerging markets," said K Sean Harris, managing editor of LMH Publishing and author of a few erotic Jamaican titles that will also be available digitally.
"We have been interested in ebook versions of our titles for some time and being able to work with a partner that has experience with digital revenue channels is a major benefit. This deal will significantly increase the reach of our titles and benefit our authors tremendously," he added.
David Mullings, CEO of Random Media said the deal will see the company distributing the titles in North American and other markets in which there is a Jamaican Diaspora and/or persons who are interested in Jamaican stories, life and culture.
"Our goal is to help generate significant revenues from markets outside the Caribbean and bring new money into Caribbean economies that can support creative industries because the Caribbean is a hotbed of creativity," Mullings said, adding "We think its a good way for us to create opportunities, not just create jobs."
The market for digital books is substantial if one considers the potential to tap into the more than 125 million iTunes customers via the iPad, but Mullings said he is not yet targeting capturing a specific percent of the global market which is still in its infancy. Instead the company is working "from the ground up" to reach the millions of ebook readers world-wide.
"It's bringing money back to Jamaica. Most of the people who will purchase these books will be those who own an Apple iPad or a Kindle," said Mullings. "This is new money that flows into the country. It is hard currency, not Jamaican currency, which we think is a win-win."
Mullings said the profit share for the digital publishing will resemble that of iTunes whereby copyright owners, will receive about 75 per cent from the sale price of each item. This is not a standard however as the deals are negotiated with the authors. "They get the lion's share of the money. We keep a small amount from each title, but we get to distribute multiple titles," reasoned Mullings, who said that the objective of the company is to share the wealth with those involved in the process. This includes LMH, which at the moment is the sole publisher included in the deal. However, Mullings said Random Media is not averse to negotiations with independent and self published authors so long as the quality of the work is good.
"As usual, content is king so quality is what drives the sales," he said.
The benefits of digital publishing are numerous. A digital publisher can take more risks experimenting with titles than a traditional publisher, whose costs are much higher. Additionally, the company is easy to scale as the volumes increase, reasoned Mullings. "Because they are not physical products we can scale exponentially and generate even more profit for the business," he said.