International round-up: News pays $455m for book publisher

News Corp has agreed to purchase Harlequin Enterprises, a Canadian book publisher that specialises in romance and women’s fiction.

The company announced the acquisition was for C$455 million, although it is still subject to regulatory approvals and the approval of Harlequin parent company Torstar’s Class A shareholders.

Harlequin, which owns the Mills & Boon franchise, will operate as a division of publisher HarperCollins, a subsidiary of News Corp.

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said that Harlequin will expand News Corp’s digital capabilities and extend its intercontinental reach by providing greater opportunity to publish in other languages.

“Harlequin has a devoted audience around the globe and an empathetic insight into contemporary cultures, which is itself a remarkable resource,” he said.

“This acquisition will broaden the boundaries of both HarperCollins and Harlequin, and is a significant step in our strategy to establish a network of digital properties in the growth regions of the world.”

Harlequin publishes in 34 languages and sells in more than 100 international markets. It had yearly revenue of C$398 million in 2013 and EBITDA of C$56 million.

 ‘Shazam for print’ launches in the US

An app that makes it easy to share a print article on a smartphone simply by scanning the page has launched in the US.

Peekster has drawn comparisons to the ubiquitous name-that-song app Shazam for its intuitive function that enables it to recognise print articles It will add the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post to its existing base of titles in the UK where it launched last November with The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Metro, City AM and The Evening Standard.

The app blurs the line between print and digital – and does away with physical newspaper clippings – by locating a digital version of an article scanned by the user, allowing them to share it online.

Peekster uses web search or a title’s RSS Feed to source the links, rather than using a database of publisher’s content, thus avoiding copyright concerns.

Co-founder Tine Handler told TechCrunch he believed print is “still a pretty huge market”.

“We did some market research and found out that people still rather prefer print over digital when commuting to work,” he said.

“But in the future we believe that we will witness a big change in content distribution because all the content will be online and it will be hard to stand out and be found.

“Our idea is that in the future publishers will need to advertise their content — not just their brand, but also the content; the articles themselves.”

LA Times wants to write your tweets

The LA Times is set to launch a redesigned website which, among other features, gives readers a selection of different ready-made tweets with which to share articles.

Launched on May 5, the new design will encourage readers to “snack” on their content by offering a list of tweetable statements at the top of each article page.

As Neiman Journalism Lab notes, this capitalises on the popular habit in the social media age of ‘share first, read later’, whilst presenting story highlights that may lead the reader onwards.

The redesign was orchestrated by Code and Theory, a creative company specialising in cross-platform brand experience and design which has also worked on websites for The Daily Beast and Interview.

SPH iPad app wins global award

An app that aggregates content from Singapore Press Holdings publications has won a highly regarded international award just five months out from its launch.

AsiaOne won an Award of Excellence at The Communicator Awards, an international program recognising big ideas in marketing and communications, in the newly introduced “Mobile Apps – News” category.

The awards are organised and judged by the US-based International Academy of Visual Arts, an invitation-only group of top professionals in media, communications, advertising and creative agencies.

AsiaOne, which launched its iPad version in December 2013 to accompany the website’s smartphone app, is the only Singapore and Asian entry to win an Award of Excellence in the mobile category at the Communicators. The app launched in Dec 2013 to complement the website’s smartphone apps.
The AsiaOne iPad app offers a range of news and lifestyle content from SPH publications including The Straits Times and The Business Times, as well as various magazines and top websites in Asia.

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