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Frozen Libyan assests create trouble for UK publisher

As Muammar el-Qaddafi wages war on his own people, the US is imposing unilateral sanctions, including the blocking of billion in Libyan government assets as per President Obama’s executive order late last Friday night. It’s the largest amount of money ever seized in a government sanction. European governments are also imposing sanctions against funds controlled by the Libyan regime.

But the UK move to freeze Libya’s sovereign assets has, as the UK Guardian reports, caused Pearson, the publishing company that owns the Financial Times as well as book publisher Penguin, to solicit legal advice. As it turns out, Libya is Pearson’s fifth largest shareholder.

According to the Guardian:

Pearson has begun a legal process to ascertain if the stake held by the Libyan Investment Authority, the fifth biggest shareholder in the Financial Times owner with a £250m investment, needs to be frozen following a government order.

On Sunday the UK government moved to freeze the assets of Muammar Gaddafi and five members of his family, a decision that has prompted Pearson’s lawyers to file legal documents to determine exactly who is the beneficial owner of the stake.

Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, told the Guardian, “It is abhorrent to us what is happening in Libya and we have made it clear we are uncomfortable with the holding. We are in a terrible position, it is abhorrent for everyone at Pearson. We do not know what the freeze notice covers at this point.”

Last year, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund increased its stake in Pearson to over 3%.

“We did meet with one of their financial representatives, a European — he was a middleman, not really a representative of the authority,” Scardino told the Guardian. “We are a public company in a free market and we don’t choose our shareholders they choose us. The basic premise is, this is one of those glitches in the free market system. Unfortunately we can’t tell a shareholder to get off our register.”

The Guardian also notes that:

The company said that the protests in the Middle East had not had a massive impact on Pearson’s international education business. The division made £1.2bn in revenues last year with the Middle East accounting for about 5%, some £62m. Pearson’s main markets in the region are Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


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New publishing house wants to create beautiful ebooks; free ebook available

Home 07Well, that certainly is something to be hoped for! I also notice that you can get a free ebook from them when you subscribe to their newsletter. From the press release:

When Kris Waldherr, an award-winning book designer, author, and illustrator, downloaded her first e-book, she was appalled at how ugly it looked. “I could hardly read it. I gave up after several pages,” she recalls. However, Waldherr also recognized an opportunity: “I became determined to create beautiful e-books.”

This month marks the successful launch of Art and Words Editions (ArtandWordsEditions.com), Waldherr’s new digital publishing house based in Brooklyn, New York. Art and Words Editions specializes in impeccably designed and gorgeously illustrated e-books for children and adults. With e-readers hot sellers over the holiday season, she couldn’t have picked a better time. In December, the New York Times reported that 10% of surveyed adults planned to purchase an e-reader as a gift; at the start of 2011, it was estimated that over 10.3 million e-readers were in use in the United States.

Art and Words Editions began by reissuing Waldherr’s extensive back catalog — she’s published over twenty picture books for children and illustrated gift books for adults including the best-selling THE BOOK OF GODDESSES — but expanded to feature other award-winning authors and illustrators. They include Robert D. San Souci (THE FIREBIRD, MULAN), Donna Henes (THE QUEEN OF MY SELF), and Lisa Hunt (THE FAIRY TALE TAROT, SOUL DRAWINGS). Waldherr says, “We intend to usher in a golden age of e-books for children and adults.” Besides e-books, Art and Words Editions has also developed iPhone and iPod apps.

Art and Words Editions’ e-books are available from Apple, BN.com, and Amazon for the iPad, Kindle, NOOK, and other e-readers. Want to play it safe? They also publish PDFs which can be read on any computer.

Visit ArtandWordsEditions.com to learn more and for purchasing links. For a limited time, receive a free e-book download when you subscribe to their newsletter.


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Books-A-Million taps Bluefire Productions to create BAM Reader

Screen shot 2011-01-11 at 6.58.08 PM.pngFrom the press release:

Books-A-Million, Inc. (NASDAQ:BAMM) and Bluefire Productions LLC announced today a partnership to make Books-A-Million’s extensive eBook library available through a mobile e-reader application. Bluefire Productions has created the Books-A-Million (BAM) Reader, giving mobile consumers easy access to a wide selection of best sellers from the BAM website and the ability to read them on their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Books downloaded to the application can be transferred to and read on popular e-reader devices, including the Nook. The free BAM Reader is available now at www.booksamillion.com.

Already a leading mobile e-reader application provider, Bluefire Productions creates its first private label application through the partnership with Books-A-Million. The BAM Reader is built on the company’s successful Bluefire Reader, the industry’s first iOS app to bring library books to iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. The mobile eBook app contains rich features that give readers more options than competing apps, including:

§ Support for EPUB and PDF e-book formats, and Adobe Content Server 4 DRM support, making BAM Reader interoperable with popular dedicated e-readers;

§ Robust in-app search features including multi-search refinement filtering and sorting for industry-leading search and discovery of titles;

§ Seamless eBook purchasing takes place on the Books-A-Million website with easy integration into the app;

§ Ebooks purchased from Books-A-Million can be transferred to and read on laptop and desktop computers using Adobe Digital Editions;

§ Ebooks can be downloaded multiple times and read in the BAM Reader on iPads, iPhones, iPod Touches and popular dedicated e-reader devices.

The BAM Reader will also allow consumers to read e-books from public libraries, and consolidate, organize and read books through a consumer-friendly design and simple navigation features. And with support for EPUB, the industry standard for eBooks, the BAM Reader will automatically adjust the text to fit the reader’s screen. Bluefire Productions introduced the Bluefire Reader app in November, and through the Books-A-Million relationship, is extending it into the broader e-book marketplace.


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