Thanks to digital initiatives and a strong list of titles, the 50-year-old UK publisher keeps growing its business, despite increasing competition external to traditional publishing.
Even as listen to Kogan Page’s leadership today in regards to the rights landscape within this independent house’s business and management specialty, the ways to access several titles the corporation is presenting for rights sales. You’ll find those after this story.-Porter Anderson
Chinese Rights Sales Now Leading
China is becoming Kogan Page‘s most efficient rights territory, since the UK publisher marks its 50th anniversary.
Founded by Philip Kogan in 1967, they have remained independent throughout its half-century, and it’s run today by Philip’s daughter Helen Kogan, who’s managing director.
The corporation recently made industry headlines with the timely purchase of two cyber-attack titles, announced from the same week since the global ransomware attack. Those two titles are scheduled for spring 2018:
Cyberwars: The Hacks that Shook the globe is as simple as former Guardian technology editor Charles Arthur and may consider the dramatic inside stories of a number of the world’s biggest cyber-attacks such as the Clinton election campaign in addition to recent global events.
Cyber Risk Management, is as simple as Richard Benham with the UK’s National Cyber Skills Centre and may, as outlined by promotional copy, offer “vital help with how to evaluate threats and communicate a cyber-security tactic to aid the prevention of the trillions of dollars which can be lost globally every year.”
Publishing Perspectives spoke to Helen Kogan regarding how the corporation has been able to remain independent, its current rights activity, and just how the world of Buy Business Books publishing is changing.
‘Discoverable In the World’
Publishing Perspectives: As Kogan Page enters its sixth decade, bed mattress business?
Helen Kogan: We’re having a great year. We’re almost after our financial year and we’re seeing double-digit growth across all revenue streams. We’ve also won two transformational publishing contracts with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and also the Chartered Institute of Banking both for academic and professional development titles.
We’re going to launch a searchable digital platform for B2B customers and we’re also going to launch our first online courses. It’s been a really exciting breakthrough year following four years of refocus and progression of our value proposition.
PP: What is the particular focus to your rights activity?
HK: The expansion and further development of Beijing Book Fair has been particularly good for us, and also the sale of Chinese rights has become our greatest territory.
However, we have our titles translated into 50 different languages now and, interestingly, this isn’t just restricted to our very popular general business titles. We’ve had success with a few in our more specialist titles too, in logistics and human resources.
We’ve for ages been internationally-focused and currently sell our titles into 90 countries with key territories being America, Europe, Southeast Asia, the very center East, Australia, India, and China.
We now have offices in america and India and a wide network of agents globally. We’re fortunate to publish in English-the international language of business-and that business and management is really a global subject. We’ve really used global supply chains lately and, over the progression of digital bibliographic and marketing feeds, are in possession of the great power to make our titles discoverable anywhere in the world.
‘A Very Crowded Marketplace’
PP: Which are the main issues facing business and professional publishers?
HK: A serious problem is that we’re now encompassed by content producers.
It’s merely traditional publishers that disseminate business content, and it’s an extremely crowded marketplace. Training companies, member organizations, business schools and management consultancies are just some of the intense non-traditional competition we should instead consider. However, we’ve spent the past several years defining our value proposition and points of difference and think we have a compelling and competitive business with significant opportunity for further growth.
PP: The amount of a threat is open access? The ‘knowledge must be free’ camp can be extremely persuasive. Will it create a breeding ground where students are more unwilling to purchase content?
HK: I believe it’s hard to persuade students to purchase content when they’ve been utilized to ‘free’. We actually have to have the educational institutes to guide us within this also to make case that after the fishing line is an author who’s created the book and will be compensated accordingly.
As much as “free” is really a challenge I also believe that the threat to non-linear narrative, through other media formats, is problematic. We’re looking at how we can offer a more three-dimensional and interactive experience in the future to tackle changing consumer reading habits.
PP: How has Kogan Page been able to stay independent?
HK: Bloody-mindedness, resilience, opportunism-all those ideas plus much more.
PP: The amount of employees have you got and what’s your turnover?
HK: We now have 35 staff and growing. Our turnover is ?4.5 million (US$5.6 million) but also in another financial year this will grow close to ?5.5 million (US$7.2 million) through organic growth and also the inclusion of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s list. We had to adopt a hit on our top line over the last few years as we refocused section of our activity on specialist areas however year we’re seeing the fruits of that work and have a much 12-percent growth.
Benefitting Coming from a Weak Pound
PP: What effect do you consider Brexit may have?
HK: It’s difficult to say at this time. We have to hope that we won’t experience tariffs as this will clearly involve some impact. Costs of materials may also be a worry and we’ll should keep close track of this. We hold English-language world and digital rights for the vast majority of our list and this should mitigate being forced to tackle US editions in Europe (an increasing concern amongst other publishers).
Hopefully sanity will prevail and also the threat hanging over our European colleagues’ right to remain in this country will likely be addressed swiftly as an alternative to using it like a bargaining chip.
Around the plus side, we’ve certainly benefited from the weakness with the pound from the dollar.
PP: Where does one sell much of your books?
HK: 70 percent in our sales still have the traditional supply chain-bookshops, trusted online retailers, wholesalers, and so on. However, our Website sales are increasing and that we have a thriving B2B sales activity for member organizations, author networks, and corporates.
PP: What’s the split between digital and print inside your business?
HK: Digital makes up about A quarter of revenue with the balance of this being delivered from digital licensing to academic library suppliers, aggregators, and company content suppliers. Our ebook business has stayed fairly stable at approximately 8 percent of overall revenue.
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