Saturday, October 2, 2010

Alyson Books Goes Digital

Alyson Books, one of the oldest and most respected LGBT publishers in the business, has been in financial trouble for years. Alyson has not published new print books since fall 2009. In fact, Here Media, Alyson’s parent company, has had the publisher on the auction block for some time. Yesterday, after months of being unable to arrange the sale of Alyson Books, Here Media announced that Alyson is dropping its print book program and will restructure as an e-book only publisher.

Don Weise, Editor in Chief, has unsuccessfully tried to generate funding to acquire the publisher. Weise and Here Media were unable to come to terms, and with this restructuring, Weise will leave the company.

John Knoebel, v-p of consumer marketing at Here Media, said he doesn't expect Alyson to begin publishing e-books for nine to twelve months. Not surprising considering Alyson has never published a single ebook.

Alyson plans to reach out to the authors it has under contract to give them the option of getting their rights back or moving ahead with Alyson's digital program. "We know authors are working in different circumstances," Knoebel said. "We hope some will stick with us."

This turn of events will most likely have a huge impact on glbt publishing. Not only for writers, but also for lgbt independent bookstores, who depend on quality paperbacks to stay in business. It makes me wonder how much longer independent bookstores, which have served the gay communities well over the years, will be able to keep their doors open.

It’s a shame that Here Media is not considering Print On Demand, which would allow them to print paperbacks as well, but only ones that have already sold. Many small POD publisher are making that business model work well.

You can read an expanded Publisher's Weekly article by pressing here.

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