On Friday Publishers Weekly — the trade publication of record for the publishing industry —  dropped a big bomb.  Parent company Regent/Here Media announced that Alyson — once the largest independent publisher of gay and lesbian books, with sales of almost one million dollars a year — would restructure as an e-book only publisher. With the move Weise will exit the company.

What does this mean for our friend Don Weise and the reported 24 authors — some of whom write for this publication — who have books contracted with Alyson?  We already know what Michael Musto thinks. We expect to have details and official statements soon. 

From PW:

Unable to arrange the sale of Alyson Books, parent company Here Media has announced that it is dropping Alyson’s print book program and plans to restructure as an e-book only publisher. The country’s oldest gay and lesbian house has been in financial trouble for months and publisher Don Weise had been trying to put a group together to acquire the publisher. With the restructuring, however, Weise will leave the company.

John Knoebel, v-p of consumer marketing at Here Media, has been named interim publisher until a new digital publisher can be found. Knoebel said he doesn’t expect Alyson to begin publishing e-books for nine to 12 months. “We want to develop a strategy that makes sense,” he said, adding that Here Media would like to have the new publisher on board and involved with creating the new business model. The recruitment of a digital publisher “could take some time,” Knoebel said.

Over the next few days Alyson will be reaching out to the authors it has under contract and whose books they have not published to give them the option of getting their rights back or moving ahead with Alyson’s digital program. “We know authors are working in different circumstances,” Knoebel said. “We hope some will stick with us.” Alyson has about 24 authors under contract whose books have not yet been released. Alyson has not published new print books since fall 2009.

While Alyson has never released an e-book, Knoebel said other parts of Here Media, specifically Out and Advocate, have done digital products that have been well received. The gay and lesbian community tend to be early adopters of technology, he said, “so we are encouraged that they will take to digital books.” Knoebel said one factor in the decision to stop publishing print titles was the closing of many gay bookstores. “There are just fewer places to sell books,” he said.

Alyson is the second mid-sized publisher to try an e-book strategy to continue to publish. This summer, Dorchester Publishing dropped its mass market paperback line in exchange for an e-book/print-on-demand approach.

A blurb about Alyson Books from their official “About Us” page:

Founder Sasha Alyson launched Alyson Books in Boston, Massachusetts in 1980. There he published a wide array of groundbreaking LGBT titles—the children’s books Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s New Roommate; the first black gay anthologies In the Life and Brother to Brother; and the S/M classics Coming to Power and Leatherfolk, for example—until 1992, when he sold the press to Liberation Publications. In the years that followed Alyson relocated to Los Angeles, then later settled in New York City, publishing the most talked-about books by and for LGBT readers. Today under the ownership of Here Media, a Los Angeles, California-based entertainment company that also owns The Advocate, Out, Here! TV, and Gay.com, among other media properties, Alyson continues to serve and inspire readers as the premiere publisher of LGBT literature.

As of 1:43pm (EST) Weise’s photo and bio have not been removed from alyson.com.

3 Responses to “Breaking News about Alyson Books”

  1. […] In a statement by Here Media executive and interim publisher, John Knoebel, Alyson Books will continue to operate as an E-book publisher only. Read more about Alyson’s new venture here. […]

  2. […] about it at Publisher’s Weekly, the Alyson Books website, Arsenal Pulp Press, OUTview, and Lambda Literary (and then again at Lambda […]

  3. […] troubled company after a failed bid to purchase it from Here Media. Alyson is reportedly restructuring as an e-publisher […]

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