Case | HBS Case Collection | August 2007 (Revised November 2010)

Grand Central Publishing

by Anita Elberse

Abstract

In April 2007, Grand Central's publisher Jamie Raab and editor Karen Kosztolnyik were involved in a frantic bidding war for a proposed book on the life of cat Dewey, billed as the feline answer to the best-selling "Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog." Literary agent Peter McGuigan, who represented the author and ghost writer, had just notified them that a second publisher seeking to close the deal was "shadowing" Grand Central's every move and a preemptive offer of well over a million dollars would be required to secure the acquisition - an exceedingly high amount for a book by a first-time author. Should Grand Central continue to bid for Dewey, wait for the scheduled auction with several interested publishers, or pull out of the race? Allows for an in-depth examination of new-product acquisition, development, and launch strategies in the context of the book publishing industry. Provides rich insights into how media and entertainment firms aim to replicate success, and how they find, foster, and sell potential blockbuster products. Also illustrates how similar efforts by competitors increase each firm's dependence on a handful of hits. Contains detailed unique economic data that illustrate the high level of concentration in the distribution of sales and profits across products. By enabling an analysis of the book acquisition, development, and marketing process from the perspective of the publisher, author, and agent, serves as a vehicle for contrasting different approaches to the new product development process.

Keywords: Acquisition; Product Launch; Bids and Bidding; Product Development; Publishing Industry;

Citation:

Elberse, Anita. "Grand Central Publishing." Harvard Business School Case 508-036, August 2007. (Revised November 2010.)