From the press release:

Pan Macmillan announced today a partnership between its new digital imprint, Macmillan Bello, and Curtis Brown, one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious literary agencies.

Macmillan Bello was previously known as Macmillan Compass, the working title for the imprint when its forthcoming launch was first announced in June this year. Pan Macmillan’s Managing Director, Anthony Forbes Watson, says, “Why Bello? Because Bello is an African footballer, Spanish intellectual, Venezuelan poet and American bass guitarist as well as a big and beautiful modern font, and the way an Italian expresses admiration: Bello is hidden talent discovered – and admired!”

From November 2011 to the end of the year, Macmillan Bello will publish 120 ebooks drawn exclusively from Curtis Brown’s list, with a further 400 titles to follow later next year.

Macmillan Bello will publish in digital format and its ebooks will be distributed through Pan Macmillan’s standard channels. It will also make all titles available in Print on Demand (POD) editions.

Macmillan Bello is an imprint designed to use new digital technologies and harness the expertise, supply chain relationships, and editorial and marketing teams at Pan Macmillan to bring long out of print books by iconic authors to a new readership in the 21st century.

The launch list includes novels from Gerald Durrell, bestselling conservationist author and founder of the Durrell Wildlife Trust; the iconic English writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West; Francis Durbridge, author of classic detective fiction; novelist and critic D J Taylor, who recently featured on this year’s Man Booker long list; a revival of the fiction of Gillian Tindall, now acclaimed for her miniaturist histories; and a novel for adults from the much-loved and award-winning children’s author Eva Ibbotson. Further titles in the launch list will be announced in due course.

Anna Davis, agent for literary estates and Head of Book contracts, comments,

“At Curtis Brown we have been researching the best ways to revive our authors’ out-of-print books, and were hugely impressed with Macmillan’s plans, their ambition, vision and commitment to neglected writers. We’ve greatly enjoyed partnering with them on the launch of Macmillan Bello, and are excited about the future and making available great writers from yesteryear.”

Sara Lloyd says,

“We’re excited to have our first partnership established. We have had such a lot of fun working with Curtis Brown to get the business underway and are looking forward to working with them further to grow the list and the business in the coming months.”

Jeremy Trevathan says,

“The moment we started talking to Curtis Brown we realized what an extraordinary list of authors and estates they managed. It’s a personal pleasure to me to be able to bring back into print some great writers of earlier generations, including some of the great names of crime and thriller writing. Working with Curtis Brown has been a real delight and we’ve been really impressed by the commitment and speed with which they have moved to make this partnership possible.”

Macmillan Bello is managed by Pan Macmillan Fiction Publisher, Jeremy Trevathan, and Digital Director, Sara Lloyd. The initiative received seedcorn funding from the Macmillan ‘Innovation From Within’ Programme.

And here’s their report on their exponential ebook growth:

Pan Macmillan reported today that its ebook sales accounted for over 8% of all its trade sales in the first quarter of 2011, with a rise to as much as 10% predicted by the end of this year.

At the same time the publisher’s sales of print books have shown double digit sales growth in the same quarter.

Pan Macmillan’s Q1 rate of ebook sales has increased fifteen-fold since the first quarter of 2010. The publisher now has some 1300 ebooks available, up from 500 during the same period a year ago. Pan Macmillan is currently digitising the remainder of its active backlist.

Pan Macmillan’s ebook programme includes hardback number one bestsellers, Wilbur Smith, whose Those in Peril, released in March 2011, was its fastest ever selling ebook at the same time as breaking records for his hardback sales, Jeffrey Archer, whose latest novel, Only Time Will Tell, is currently at the top of the hardback and ebook bestseller lists, Peter James and Emma Donoghue who have both enjoyed ebook No 1s.

Pan Macmillan also dominated the iBooks Top 20 over Christmas 2010 including its innovative Short Reads series, which packaged individual short stories by branded authors at 99p each and gained them significant promotional profile.

Sara Lloyd, Pan Macmillan’s Digital Director, comments,

“We’re delighted with our strong ebook performance. Clearly the market is developing apace. We’ve capitalised on our ability to move fast to expand our customer base and proactively pursue the strategic promotional, packaging and placement opportunities that digital publishing affords us, to get ahead of the game.”


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