Hachette plans to buy Numilog—and introduce the Sony Reader to France this year

Hachette plans to buy Numilog—and introduce the Sony Reader to France this year

Vía: Teleread Blog

Numilog, a major e-book distributor and retailer in France, will be acquired by Hachette Livre, a subsidiary of the Lagardere Group, if a proposed deal goes through.

So reports Le Figaro, a major French newspaper.

What’s more, Hachette, the country’s largest publisher, will apparently introduce the Sony Reader to France this year.

Excerpt from Le Figaro interview with Hachette’s Arnaud Nourry

The original Le Figaro article is here; the Google translation here. Below is an excerpt of the translated interview with Arnaud Nourry, CEO of Hachette Livre (with tweaks for style):

"The proposed acquisition of 100 percent of Numilog stock is not a big financial transaction. It amounts to only a few million. But this acquisition marks a major milestone in our digital strategy.

"With Numilog, our group will develop an infrastructure to distribute e-books published by the group, as well as by outside publishers, who will retain control of their content.

"The company aims to offer its services to all publishers market the image of the distribution system books in paper form existing longstanding within Hachette Livre.

"Numilog is the first aggregator of digital books in the French language and the main distribution platform in France, offering 43,000 titles in all formats…

Two main competitors in France: Mobipocket and Cyberlibris

"Numilog has two other competitors in France, Mobipocket, a subsidiary of Amazon, and Cyberlibris. The market has been slower to develop than imagined by the founders of Numilog in March 2000. Downloading books is not yet much of a business. But in five years, it could account for between one and five percent of the publishing market…

"Dennis Zwirn will continue to lead Numilog…He and his team bring us three sets of skills: processing and storage of digital books, downloading with copy protection and distribution and billing. We will turn a few thousand titles over to Numilog.

"Hachette Livre will release the Sony Reader by year’s end."

The implications—for e-books and tech, including the ePub standard

Imagine the implications of the Hachette-Numilog deal for agents and publishers, given the importance of "territories" in copyright. Other questions arise. Will Hachette pour money into Numilog and eventually try to turn it into a powerhouse in the States or at least strive to become the Amazon of Europe, either alone or through alliances with other companies such as Sony?

Might there be some good possibilities for the IDPF’s ePub format if any of this happens someday? The U.S. side of Hachette has been a leader in use of ePub (as a distribution format), which, by the way, the Sony Reader will be able to read via Adobe Digital Editions. Meanwhile I wonder what will happen to Numilog’s existing format lineup for e-books, consisting of PDF and Mobipocket and Microsoft Reader. I assume the others will still be available. In Hachette’s place, however, I’d push ePub to the max as an alternative to Amazon’s Mobipocket and the Kindle. Even Amazon should climb on aboard the ePub bandwagon, if it values actual revenue, as opposed to market-share, a more means to that end.

I thought of eBabel, and the need for e-book standards, just now as I was enjoying You’ll Be Okay: My Life with Jack Kerouac, by Edie Kerouac-Parker—the very kind of quirky nonbest-seller that we’ll more likely find in E when eBabel costs vanish. No, you can’t buy it at the Kindle store.

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