Ignition, take-off! Backlist specialist Open Road Media is bought by publishing and finance group to build on data marketing momentum

An investment group has bought Open Road Media to build on the company’s highly successful Ignition reader marketing service for publishers.

The deal is reckoned to be worth at least $60 million and is led by former Arcadia Publishing CEO David Steinberger, who will become Open Road’s CEO, with the present CEO Paul Slavin taking on a consulting role.

David Steinberger says, 'Data science represents the next frontier in book publishing. The title-by-title impact on sales is unlike anything I’ve encountered in my 25 years in the industry. I’m looking forward to working to build on Open Road’s powerful momentum in the marketplace.' 

Grove Atlantic Books president Morgan Etrekin is part of the group behind the buy and says, ‘We’ve been working with Open Road for several years now and have seen the impressive results they deliver for our titles. We’re excited to be part of this venture.’

Open Road’s Ignition marketing program offers a range of services, including a ‘white glove’ level which features full marketing support on a revenue-sharing basis.

Newsletter email ads for ebook promotions

The company also offers reasonably priced email promotions through its newsletters sent out to subscribers.

The main newsletter is Early Bird Books, which claims to have 1.3 million multi-genre subscribers. For ‘down-priced’ book promotions, the cost is $300 for a newsletter slot ‘to reach an audience of at least 350,000 engaged readers’.

There are also five other newsletters covering crime fiction and mystery; true crime, suspense and horror; romance; science fiction and fantasy; and history and non-fiction. The number of subscribers for these newsletters range from 11,000 to 40,000 and they all charge $75 for a slot for a cut-price promotion.

Open Road was set up in 2009 by former Harper Collins CEO Jane Friedman with film producer Jeffrey Sharp to publish backlist titles as ebooks.

The company has published over 10,000 ebook titles, including many from renowned authors.

Paul Slavin oversaw the company’s move from being purely a backlist publisher to building the Ignition marketing program that markets ebooks for other publishers. It markets more than 25,000 ebook titles for around 70 publishers.

In July this year, Open Road bought British indie publisher Bloodhound Books, which was set up in 2014 and has sold more than six million books worldwide.

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