To take advantage of e-books, new owner plans to digitize "Publishers Weekly's' archive
After acquiring Publishers Weekly and related assets last month, George W. Slowik Jr. said he is eager to capitalize on the mass digitization of books already under way.
Slowik's company, PWxyz LLC, bought Publishers Weekly, the Publishers Weekly Show Daily and PublishersWeekly.com from Reed Business Information-US for an undisclosed price.
Slowik, who ran Publishers Weekly from 1989 to 1993 and is now president of PWxyz, said there are three accelerating trends in book publishing that justified the purchase of Publishers Weekly: the growing adoption of e-books among professionals; Google's book settlement, which, after several years of litigation, appears to have paved the way for Google to make millions of books available online; and the book translation tool carried by Chrome (Google's browser), which can translate books into 52 languages.
“Each one makes the purchase of so rich an archive in book reviews so appealing,” said Slowik, who estimates that there are roughly 500,000 book reviews in Publishers Weekly's archives—dating back to 1940—that have not been digitized; the magazine started in 1872.
“We need to map out who's receiving what so that print is part of the overall relationship and is the gateway to other content,” Slowik said, adding that the print magazine (20,000 circ.) will continue to run 51 times a year. “The electronic side allows you to personalize the content, and the two haven't been cross-referenced at this point.”
Slowik said he will invest in Publishers Weekly's social and mobile applications to enhance its existing online content, which includes a daily e-mail newsletter (35,000 circ.) and several monthly e-mails that focus on specific genres, such as cookbooks and crime. PublishersWeekly.com garners 2 million page views a month. PWxyz plans to retain all of the brand's editorial, art and advertising employees, and will add to both the editorial and sales staffs, Slowik said.
“PW is a venerable title, and Reed was keen to find a suitable new owner that would preserve and nourish the franchise,” said Richard Mead, managing director of media investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group, which handled the deal for RBI-US. “There was considerable interest from multiple well-qualified strategic buyers. George Slowik's history with PW and his vision for the future of the business and its staff made a compelling case for the seller.”
The Publishers Weekly sale is the latest deal in RBI's ongoing divestiture of its print portfolio. The Reed Elsevier unit, which had no comment on the Publishers Weekly sale, originally wanted to sell the entire portfolio to one buyer but has had to settle for selling it off in parts.
RBI announced April 16 that is was shuttering the 23 magazines it had not been able to sell or did not intend to keep, including Building Design+Construction, Plant Engineering, Semiconductor International and Trade-show Week. RBI owns Variety, which it said it plans to keep.