Hachette snaps up ‘best ebook seller in the world’ Bookouture

Hachette has swooped to buy Bookouture, the UK’s leading indie ebook publisher which was set up just four years ago.

Bookouture has been building up marketing momentum in the last couple of years and was particularly successful in 2016 with Robert Bryndza’s massive best-seller The Girl in the Ice. Bryndza was a romcom writer before moving into the crime genre.

The Girl in the Ice was published in February 2016 and sales quickly took off. Bookouture reacted by publishing three further novels featuring Detective Erika Foster (Book 4 is coming out in April), which is an unimaginable publishing pace for a giant operation like Hachette.

Bookouture was founded in 2012 and self-funded by Oliver Rhodes, who had a successful career in marketing at traditional publisher Harlequin. Rhodes had the aim of combining traditional publishing with smart digital marketing and a global approach to author brands.

In October last year, Bookouture revealed that it had made 4.2 million unit sales so far in the year. It hasn’t given final sales figures for the whole year but at that run rate and with the holiday season still to account for it must have made well over 5 million sales.

That followed a breakthrough year in 2015 when sales leapt by 556% to 2.47 million ebooks, buoyed by big sales from Angela Marsons’ crime novels, from a total of 326,000 in 2014 and just 81,000 in 2013.

The company publishes commercial genre fiction and in 2015 released only 44 titles after publishing 27 in 2014. In 2015, Bookouture had average ebook sales per book of 31,000, up by nearly 200% from 10,343 in 2014, and five new books sold over 100,000 copies.

The company  puts the emphasis on quality over quantity and there are now around 155 titles available from a list of well under 100 authors.

One of Rhodes’ aims when he set up Bookouture was to simplify the submission process for authors. Writers can register on the Bookouture website and then submit their manuscript. The genres it’s interested in include:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Historical Romance
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Chick Lit
  • New Adult
  • Young Adult
  • Erotica
  • Crime & Thriller
  • Commercial Literary
  • Fantasy
  • Dystopian
  • Multicultural Fiction

You can find out more about the submission requirements at Bookouture.

At present, Bookouture is focused overwhelmingly on ebooks while producing print-on-demand books  for some authors. The print side of the business will definitely get a boost with the takeover which will see Hachette’s Little, Brown imprint publishing Bookouture authors’ print books.

Hachette UK CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson says, ‘In just four years since it was founded, Bookouture has established itself as an outstandingly successful and innovative ebook publisher.

‘Its formidable reputation and enormous success in  publishing many bestselling ebook authors, including Angela Marsons, Louise Jensen and Robert Bryndza, whose novel The Girl in the Ice has sold over one million copies, demonstrates that Bookouture probably knows more about selling ebooks than any other publisher in the world.

‘We salute Oliver Rhodes and his colleagues and welcome them warmly to Hachette. The acquisition of Bookouture is a landmark event for Hachette UK, demonstrating the scope of our ambition to expand and develop our core publishing business by acquiring the best companies in their field where the fit is right and their ambition matches our own.

‘Bookouture has achieved remarkable things in its short history and, while it will continue as a standalone business, I know that we will mutually enhance and grow our businesses through, where it is appropriate, sharing our expertise and  pooling our talents.’

Bookouture will have a special relationship with Little, Brown, which will publish some of Bookouture’s authors in print editions.

Bookouture CEO Rhodes will continue in this role and will also become Digital Publisher of Hachette UK. He will join the board of Hachette UK reporting to David Shelley, CEO of Little, Brown and Orion.

In his new dual role, Rhodes will continue to run Bookouture and, by steering and advising, also help increase ebook sales across the Hachette UK group. Bookouture employs 16 people, all of whom will remain with the company, which will continue to be  based in its offices in King’s Cross, London.

David Shelley says: ‘I have long admired the work Oliver has done at Bookouture — he and his colleagues have discovered some amazing authors and have enjoyed extraordinary success with them. They publish with real flair and creativity.

‘I could not be more excited to work with Oliver and his team in taking Bookouture and its authors to the next level, and to have Oliver’s input into Hachette’s digital publishing more generally. I think he will bring something very special to our business.’

Oliver Rhodes says, ‘Seeing Bookouture flourish in the past four years has been an incredible and rare privilege — we have an extremely talented and dedicated team and a fantastic group of authors who we are very proud of.

‘What is so exciting about taking this next step and becoming part of Hachette UK is that it will help us to build on the significant momentum we already have and achieve even greater things for our authors.

‘Tim and David’s vision for Bookouture within Hachette UK is absolutely everything I would want it to be – supportive, forward-thinking, and ambitious – and that was a key factor in making this decision. To sit alongside the other fantastic publishing houses in the group and work with some of the best people in the business will be a real thrill. I know we’ll learn a great deal from each other and I can’t wait to get started.’