Brian Napack

“We’re in a major battle right now for the future of the industry,” Brian Napack, a senior advisor at Providence Equity and the former CEO of book publisher Macmillan, said at the Publishers Launch conference at BookExpo America Wednesday.

“We have Amazon as an example, and certainly not the only example, of someone who’s coming at this business from a completely different angle,” Napack told Publishers Lunch CEO Michael Cader. “Amazon, at its heart, is a customer relationship management company. [Book] publishers, at their heart, are author relationship management companies.

PLASTERED on the wall of San Francisco’s main public library are 50,000 index cards, formerly entries in the library’s catalogue. The tomes they refer to may be becoming decorative, too. Not only can library patrons now search the collection online, they may also check out electronic books without visiting the library. For librarians, “e-lending” is a natural offer in the digital age. Publishers and booksellers fear it could unbind their business.

Worries about the effect of libraries on the book trade are not new. But digital devices intensify them.

Macmillan announced the formation of Macmillan Speakers (, a new agency that will place Macmillan's authors and other speakers at events and speaking engagements across the country. Founded by Ellis Trevor, formerly a publicist at St. Martin's Press, and Kathleen Gilligan, an editor at Thomas Dunne Books, the agency includes more than 100 speakers, including actor William Shatner and bestselling novelist Emily Griffin.

Macmillan has acquired the Plymouth, Mich.-based Hayden-McNeil Publishing, a publisher of custom textbooks and lab manuals for the higher education market. The acquisition adds to Macmillan’s portfolio of higher education publishers, which includes Bedford St. Martin’s, W.H. Freeman and Worth Publishers. Hayden-McNeil works with authors and institutions to produce custom-created products that are tailored to the needs of individual schools and student populations. According to Macmillan, Hayden-McNeil has been experiencing rapid growth as demand has accelerated for customized educational media and materials. “The merger with Macmillan is expected to provide Hayden-McNeil with a platform for future growth by delivering the added reach and resources

With a resume filled with shining examples of how to successfully combine traditional media with digital savvy-- from helping to launch Disney Interactive (now Buena Vista Games) to most recently serving as a media and entertainment expert for L.E.K. Consulting--Brian Napack seemed like a natural fit to help steer Holtzbrinck Publishers into the digital era. After month in his new role as president of the company, Napack, 44, spoke with Book Business to discuss what he has in store for the publishing giant during his tenure. Book Business: You have a long history working with both digital and traditional formats. How do you see those

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