Launched in 2011 by a veteran digital entrepreneur, Premier Digital Publishing is a full-service publishing venture combining the best features of conventional publishing—proven authors, backlist publishing, and print—with the changes generated by digital technology: everything from e-books, apps, and POD technology to low costs and higher royalty rates. The cofounder, Thomas Ellsworth, is a venture capitalist who began his career working at Sprint developing games for mobile phones, eventually launching JAMDAT, a mobile content publisher that he eventually sold to Electronic Arts in 2006.
“We’re a new digital publisher for a new world where marketing, distribution, and promotion are more important than ever,” Ellsworth told PW. “We’re a low-overhead organization, better suited to the new costs of doing business.” The company, with offices in the L.A., Toronto, and New York, has less than 10 full-time employees.
Ellsworth said he saw an opportunity to attract authors by “offering artists a better deal.” PDP publishes in print and digital and offers a 75% royalty to authors on e-book sales, although the print royalty is lower, varying, he said, from 15% to 20% of the retail list price. The house’s contracts revert rights back to the author after five years.
The house uses Ingram Publisher Services for print and e-book distribution and Lightning Source for its frontlist. PDP also develops interactive digital content, and kids’ e-books designed separately for reading and gaming/puzzle activity.
PDP is not looking for self-publishers or aspiring writers—it’s after veteran midlist authors with a platform, original works, and a backlist that has reverted to the author or is out of print. In today’s digitally transformed marketplace, Ellsworth said, “backlists help sell the frontlist.”
Among PDP’s authors are bestselling sci-fi/fantasy author Piers Anthony, publishing new works in his ongoing Xanth series and with a backlist of 25 novels; children’s media producer and author Britt Allcroft, who is releasing her popular Magic Adventures of Mumfie titles as the Mumfie’s Quest e-book series; and veteran thriller writer Greg Dinallo, author of The German Suitcase, a frontlist WWII thriller produced with POD.
PDP acquires books through agents, Ellsworth said, and prefers, “midlist authors with a following, a little audience that we can leverage,” authors that he said were getting “tough” treatment from legacy publishers. The company has about 100 authors (and some estates) and about 300 titles currently available. About 50 are available as print POD editions, and there are more POD frontlist titles coming in the fall.
“We’re looking to be the biggest multiformat e-book publisher and give creators a much better deal,” Ellsworth said.