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Digital Startups Bought and/or Closed in 2014

With our story on the closing of Atavist Books, it's helpful to examine the larger picture of the digital publishing start-up space. In response to a reader query, here is a look at 2014 activity, which breaks into two categories: Companies acquired and/or closed in distress or decline, and those acquired…

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Bertelsmann Makes Big Educational/Training Software Purchase

Bertelsmann has agreed to acquire North Carolina-based educational software firm Relias Learning, paying in the "mid-hundreds of millions" of dollars to buyout firm Vista Equity Partners. Two sources tell Reuters that translates into roughly $540 million. Relias produces employee training software that is used by over 4,000 organizations, primarily in health…

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McSweeney's Becomes a Nonprofit

San Francisco-based publisher McSweeney's announced it will go forward as a nonprofit organization, with the intent of obtaining 501(c)3 status next year. For now McSweeney's, founded in 1998, will run as a fiscally sponsored project of SOMArts, which runs the South of Market Cultural Center in San Francisco. In a telephone…

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TPG Plans Majority Stake In CAA

The NY Post reports that private equity firm TPG plans to increase their stake in CAA from a 35-percent share to a controlling 51-percent holding. That deal "could be announced within the week, one source familiar with the talks said." The paper's sources say the long-term objective of taking control…

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Briefs: Bloomsbury Considered Possible Osprey Buyer; Canongate 2013 Results; and More

On the heels of the Osprey Group selling off Angry Robot, Watkins, and Nourish earlier this month to entrepreneur Etan Ilfeld, the remaining divisions are still potentially up for sale, with Bloomsbury considered to be the most likely buyer, the Bookseller reports. They say the current speculation is that "both Bloomsbury…

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Harper Germany to Launch In 2015; Will Publish Silva In 16 Territories

HarperCollins is creating a HarperCollins Germany publishing program, expanding on the operation in Hamburg acquired as part of their purchase of Harlequin and launching in fall 2015 with approximately 50 Harper branded titles. The German initiative is itself just a first step, as Harper plans to take those 50 titles…

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The Talk of Frankfurt 2015: A Bertelsmann Buyout of Pearson's Penguin Random House Share?

A Bloomberg article restates the already-known in provocative fashion: "Bertelsmann intends to increase its stake in book-publishing venture Penguin Random House as early as next year, according to people familiar with the matter. Bertelsmann, owner of 53 percent of the New York-based business, plans to acquire part or all of the…

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Corporate: EC Investigates Amazon's Tax Break; Frankfurt News; and More

The European Commission "opened an in-depth investigation" into the 2003 sweetheart tax deal between Luxembourg and Amazon. This is not the tax loophole that lets Amazon sell digital goods across Europe at Luxembourg's low VAT rate, under the pretense that they are selling the items from that nation (and that…

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Corporate: Bertelsmann Buys Balance of Gruner + Jahr; Ingram Opens In California; and More

Bertelsmann will pay an undisclosed nine-figure sum to buy out the remaining 25.1 percent stake in magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr from Jahr Holding. The cash transaction is set to close November 1. Chief executive Thomas Rabe says, "We are following up [our] clear commitments to the television, book and…

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Corporate: Faber Press, Harper Takes Control of Nelson Brasil, and More

In the UK, Henry Volans will lead a new Faber Press division as director. It comprises poetry, drama, film and classical music publishing in all formats, and incorporates Faber Fine Press, Faber Finds, and Faber Digital as well. CEO Stephen Page says: "Henry takes on a very wide brief with this role, looking…

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