In a move that confirms its ambitions and prospects that I reported on earlier, all-digital publishing house Open Road Integrated Media has announced its acquisition of another all-digital platform, E-Reads, “the oldest independent ebook publisher in the field,” with “more than 1,200 titles, a majority of which are science fiction and fantasy and also span the mystery, thriller, romance, and horror genres.” E-Reads is carrying an identical notice on its website.

E-Reads’ own blurb explains a lot of its value. “Founded in 1999 at the dawn of the digital era, E-Reads™ is the oldest independent e-book publisher in the field and an innovative leader in the modern book industry. Our mission is to bring out-of-print books back in electronic and print formats and create an independent e-book market for authors …  As you explore our website you will see classic works by top authors in their fields, books that are hard to find except in expensive second-hand volumes.” Curtis himself began as an agent, and his own agency, Richard Curtis Associates, will apparently continue independently while he advises on the transition.

How much of E-Reads’ value and uniqueness will be preserved under the Open Road banner remains to be seen. As the joint announcement states, “This acquisition unites the oldest independent ebook publisher in the field with the largest.” And as I mentioned previously, Open Road evidently has ambitions. In the announcement, it states that it ” published its first ebook in 2010 and has since grown to become the largest independent ebook publisher, with more than 4,000 titles.” It does share some of E-Reads’ commitment to out-of-print and otherwise not readily available authors and titles, carrying the work of Dorothy L. Sayers, Mary McCarthy, and Pearl S. Buck, among others, but that could just as easily be because such properties are a handy short cut in building a valuable list.

Anyway, skepticism aside, this certainly underlines that consolidation, aggregation, and other classic business pressures are moving fast in the world of e-publishing. Watch for more such mergers soon.


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