As foreshadowed here and foretweeted here, former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman is back in the publishing business with a new e-books venture. Open Road Integrated Media is backed by $3 million in private equity money from Kohlberg Ventures. Joining Friedman in the start-up is Jeffrey Sharp, an indie film producer whose credits include Boys Don't Cry and A Home at the End of the World.
When I reported earlier that Friedman's business plan focused on snapping up "legacy titles" to re-publish in e-book form, I was right, but only seeing part of the elephant. According to The New York Times, Friedman plans to capitalize on the fact that so many older book contracts were drawn up in an era before such a thing as electronic rights existed. That has allowed her to secure the rights to Joseph Heller's Catch-22, and to titles by other literary giants including William Styron and Iris Murdoch. She also has a partnership with romance publisher Kensington Books (I reported earlier that the two were in talks).
But monetizing backlist titles is only one component of Friedman's strategy. She also plans to e-publish new works, to produce video content including documentaries, and to develop feature films and TV shows based on her titles. The company will also boast a "premium self-publishing" service with print-on-demand capability.
Sounds like Friedman's making that $3 million go an awful long way.
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