By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid
NBC News is launching a book publishing arm to capitalize on growth in e-reader and tablet adoption, the decreasing cost of e-book production and a backlog of over one million hours of video content.
NBC Publishing, as the business unit will be called, will be part of NBC News, a division of media conglomerate NBCUniversal, and will be based in New York at NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
“Over the last two years, we’ve been looking at the tablet market and e-reader market and watching it develop,” said Michael Fabiano, general manager of NBC Publishing. “Consumers are getting more comfortable downloading books with video. None of this is slowing down any time soon.”
The company will produce enhanced e-books using both archival and new NBC video footage as well as traditional, print-based e-books.
NBC has hired several employees with publishing experience to staff the venture. Peter Costanzo, previously of F+W Media and Perseus Books, has joined as creative director (disclosure: F+W Media owns and operates Digital Book World). Brian Perrin, who comes most recently from New York-based magazine publisher Rodale, is joining as director of digital development.
The venture is also engaging two internal television employees, a senior producer and a senior editor and researcher. Prior to his new role as general manager, Fabiano spent five years at NBC in business development. There is no more hiring planned for the immediate future.
“We have a few folks from publishing and a few folks from the television industry,” said Fabiano. “We’re merging these two disciplines to create new multimedia experiences.”
NBC has already worked on joint book projects with Perseus Books, Penguin and e-publishing platform Vook, which is one of several technology vendors being looked at for a larger partnership with the company.
According to Fabiano, NBC Publishing will continue to work on book partnerships with outside publishers while also developing its own content in-house. He added that NBC Publishing will also behave like other publishers, working with outside authors and agents on traditional book deals.
E-reader and tablet adoption, the relatively low cost of building original products once intellectual property is secured and NBC’s vast reservoir of video content led the company to create the new venture.
“We have over one million hours of archival video content going back to the ’20s and a really low cost structure to edit it and put it together,” said Fabiano. The company has secured the rights necessary to repurpose its video content in e-books.
Much like other publishers housed within media conglomerates, NBC Publishing will promote its books through on-air promotions on its cable and broadcast networks and using its Web presence, which includes msnbc.com. The company will also promote its books through Comcast, the cable provider which owns NBCUniversal.
“We have an incredible marketing engine at NBCU, so we just have to utilize it in the right way,” said Fabiano.
The public relations and marketing departments at the company will also engage in traditional book publicity, a discipline that is relatively new to them.
“It’s a different beast, a product versus a show,” said Meghan Pianta, a communications professional at NBC News who will be working on book projects. “We have been supporting other book projects and we’ve seen great success.”
Write to Jeremy Greenfield