In a deal that likely heralds a new force in book publishing going forward, entertainment media moguls Barry Diller, chairman of the IAC/InterActiveCorp, and film and theater producer Scott Rudin are teaming up to launch Brightline, a multiplatform publishing house, and bringing in former Vintage U.K. and Picador publisher Frances Coady to run it as president and publisher. Brightline will launch with an exclusive partnership with the Atavist, a well-regarded Brooklyn digital startup specializing in publishing multimedia supported nonfiction for the iPad, as well as licensing its digital publishing platform to other digital publishers.
According to the New York Times, IAC will provide $20 million in investment to Brightline in addition to investing in the Atavist, and Brightline and Atavist will exchange minority equity interests in each other’s businesses. The new company plans to launch with short e-books in fiction and nonfiction while working toward releasing physical books. Brightline will use the Atavist technology to publish enhanced and text-only e-books across all device platforms, initially releasing its digital titles under the Atavist imprint and through the Atavist website and app.
In a phone interview with Coady, she said, “we will start off, probably in 2013, doing short e-books, e-shorts in fiction and nonfiction and we will build longer e-books. Perhaps by 2014—I can’t say for sure right now—we will be doing physical books. E-book first followed by physical books. Not the usual model.” Indeed she emphasized that while, “traditional houses are desperately focused on books and what’s happening to them, we are setting out to find new ways to publish e-books, to really publish them, not just push a button and send them out there. In some ways, the e-book is what the trade paperback was a long time ago—a new format with new price points and new opportunities and challenges.”
Coady said that Bightline and the Atavist, “are in a partnership—we are a separate company,” and said she will have both an office at the IAC building in Manhattan and a desk at the Atavist in DUMBO in Brooklyn. “I will be building an editorial staff,” she said and emphasized that “I am running the company called Brightline, we will publish under Atavist. They will be Atavist Books.”
Diller praised Coady and Rudin’s experience and hailed the Atavist technology. “Publishing will change more in the next ten years than it has in the last hundred,” Diller said, “go to the Atavist on an iPad and see their remarkable integration of text, data, voice and video. We have the resources and they have the ability, using Atavist’s technology and digital smarts, to play a continuing and significant role in that transformation.”
While rumors of a Diller/Rubin e-book publishing venture have been circulating since June, the deal was first confirmed in late July by Nikke Finke’s Deadline New York. But today’s announcement lays out more, though certainly not all, details about a deal that will create a formidable and well capitalized print and e-book publishing house free of most of the legacy infrastructure (both good, like a serious backlist, and the bad, burdensome overhead and traditional acquisition practices) of traditional book publishing.
Coady said the the deal began with “Barry and Scott talking about publishing and e-books and enhanced e-books and then Scott suggest to Barry that they should call me. I knew Scott through publishing Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, Michael Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay, both of which he optioned.”
In addition Brightline’s exclusive pact with the Atavist, a innovative multimedia digital publisher previously profiled by Publishers Weekly, offers the promise and the technology for creating a new generation of serious nonfiction for the iPad and other mobile devices, supported by a wide array of multimedia functionality. The Atavist is available as an app for the iPad and on the web and publishes magazine length nonfiction, integrated with audio, video, animation and customizable interactive functionality.
Brightline will use Atavist’s technology to publish across all devices including iOS, Android, Kindle, Nook and Kobo. The Atavist will also continue to expand both its software licensing and its own publishing of original non-fiction.
“We will grow their publishing and work with them to grow their brand,” Coady said of the Atavist. “They will get to do what they do best. They are quite small, and now they are getting a huge editorial growth, and resources and financing. They will be able to grow.”