Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RR Donnelley acquires Austin, Texas-based LibreDigital; company produces digital books for Apple's iBookstore, and replica editions of magazines for the NOOK

In January of this year LibreDigital CEO Russell P. Reeder was able to announce that the company had secured $4 million in new funding, today the company was acquired by printing giant R.R. Donnelley.

LibreDigital has been working with book publishers to bring their titles to Apple's iBookstore, and it is probably in this area that Donnelley sees potential.

"With this acquisition we uniquely position RR Donnelley to support publishers and other customers with capabilities that include physical and digital production and distribution," John Paloian, RR Donnelley's Chief Operating Officer is quoted as saying in the company's announcement. "For example, we can produce books in quantities from one to millions, prepare the same content for distribution to e-readers and provide valuable business intelligence to our customers throughout the entire process."

LibreDigital's magazine work appears to limited to producing replica editions for Barnes & Noble's NOOK eReader.

Without passing judgement on this particular M&A deal, I think it is interesting to see the different philosophies being used by old and new media companies.

While new media giants like Apple, Google and Facebook make acquisitions based on the skill of the talent that comes with the deal, old media companies are still looking at the client lists and hard assets that come with any deal.

What I mean is this: say you are a print media giant, what is missing from your digital publishing efforts at this point? Often the answer is development skills, a group of people capable of creating new applications in the emerging areas of mobile and tablets. But these are the kinds of deal the tech people make. Apple and Google, in particular, are in new areas because of the people they brought onboard through acquisitions.

There aren't many folk out there who remember Casady & Greene, or their product SoundJam. But that company was acquired in 2000 and today we have iTunes. You get the idea.

For me, replica editions are a commodity. The real growth area is in native app and HTML5 web development.