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Jane Friedman

eBook Publisher Open Road Has Raised $11 Million

Digital publisher Open Road Integrated Media has raised $11 million in Series C equity financing from NewSpring Growth Capital III. Open Road’s chief operating officer Chris Davis and chief marketing officer Rachel Chou spearheaded the funding effort which is aimed to help the company grow to the next level.

Since the company launched in 2010 as a digital publisher with a few authors on their roster, the company has expanded its catalog to include more than four thousand eBooks from more than five hundred authors. The company will use the money to help enhance its technology offerings, expand its offerings, expand itself internationally and acquire new titles.

Open Road founder/CEO Jane Friedman broke the news in a blog post. She wrote:

While we feel like we have hit our stride, as we started to look toward the future, we realized there is still much to be done—with the goal in mind of helping authors reach more readers than ever before. We want Open Road to be the premier digital publishing and marketing company for many years to come, and we have many new ideas that we want to put into practice.

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Open Road Releases Children’s eBook

Open Road Integrated Media has teamed up with Canadian children’s publisher Kids Can Press to publish digital versions of the Franklin in the Dark series of digitally.

Under the terms of the partnership, Open Road will digitally publish 25 Franklin the Turtle titles including the 25th anniversary edition of Franklin in the Dark. The eBooks will go on sale on May 17th.

Open Road’s CEO Jane Friedman, (former CEO of Harper Collins), spoke to NPR today about the digital publishing company’s take on the future of publishing. She told NPR: “‘I am very happy not to be sitting as the CEO of Harper Collins, because as the CEO of a legacy publishing company, you are the CEO of basically two companies: one is physical and one is digital.’”


Albert Einstein eBooks in Kindle Exclusive

Open Road Integrated Media and Amazon will publish seven Albert Einstein eBooks–exclusive Kindle content for the famous physicist’s birthday. Above, we’ve embedded an Open Road video about the books.

The digital books will include special content: new covers, photographs and biography culled from the Hebrew University Einstein Archives, and introductory essays by Neil Berger. The complete list of titles follows below.

Open Road CEO Jane Friedman had this comment: “In partnership with Philosophical Library and Hebrew University, we have curated fascinating material about Einstein’s life that will both attract new readers and appeal to diehard fans. We are excited to be kicking off the launch of these classic titles with Amazon today, for what would be Einstein’s 132nd birthday.”

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Jane Friedman Discusses Digital Publishing In DBW Video

Jane Friedman, CEO of Open Road Integrated, left a career in traditional publishing with an entrepreneurial spirit. Her idea was to get rid of the old guard publishing elements that she didn’t like –advances and inventory.

“I’m out of the advance business and I’m out of the inventory business,” she says in the above video from Digital Book World. “That in itself is a boon to living.”

Inspired by her children, who used the Internet to read even before eReaders, Friedman wanted to embrace digital technologies in her approach to publishing. She also wanted to give new life to backlist titles. “Backlist was always something that completely interested me, so Open Road was founded on the notion of bringing the greats back to life,” she said.

Huffington Post Meets Publishers Weekly with The Gatekeepers Post

The publishing industry is a startups market, and its transformation is worth watching with a bucket of popcorn. Jeff Rivera, the book publishing executive and author (Forever My Lady,Warner Books, 2007, etc.) who also writes for our sister blog, GalleyCat, has announced the launch of a new online community for the book publishing industry. The Gatekeepers Post features book-centric reviews, headlining news, articles and op-ed pieces, as well as virtual panel discussions and online conferences.

“I’m a news junkie,” Rivera told mbStartups, but he found that publishing didn’t make the headlines as often as other industries, despite the rise of eBooks and other game-changing events. When he found himself arguing with his editors about semi-colons more often than major industry trends, Rivera decided to take action.

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When Will eBooks Hit Libraries?

Despite the rising adoption of eBooks among consumers, publishers have been slow to work out library distribution deals for their eBook titles. (eBooks in libraries certainly do exist, but there is not a widely adopted model bringing most eBooks into libraries).

This issue was addressed at Digital Book World in New York this morning, when a member of the audience asked a panel of digital publishing CEOs why their books weren’t in libraries yet.

Brian Napack, CEO at Macmillan, said: “We believe that libraries play a critical role in society, but we are searching for a business model that will allow us to work with libraries.”

Jane Friedman, CEO of Open Road Integrated Media sees marketing potential in libraries. She said: “The library consumer has not traditionally been the book buyer, but now because books are easy to buy and so reasonable at $9.99, this is changing. If you have your books in the library, you’ll make new customers. If they read a book they like from the library, you are one book away from selling them another book.”

Is $9.99 A Fair Price Point?

The debate about the right price for an eBook came up this morning at Digital Book World in New York when David Nussbaum, CEO of F+W Media asked a panel of publishing CEOs this question. The response? Fairly practical.

Brian Napack, CEO of Macmillan, said,  “Every product has a price point. $9.99 is a fine price point, but some books will be less and some will be more. The fine art of being a publisher is going to be selecting the right price.”

Jane Friedman, CEO of Open Road Integrated Media agreed. “There is nothing wrong with the $9.99 price, if it works within the business model.”

David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, pointed out that different prices have long been a part of print books. “People are not buying books, they are buying content. And they are asking themselves, is this a fair exchange for the price.”