R.R. Donnelley Acquires LibreDigital

R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Co. (RRD), a “global provider of integrated communications” that is best known as a traditional printing company, announced it has acquired LibreDigital, which has been a pioneer of digital replicas for books and periodicals. With the acquisition, RRD solidifies its expansion into the digital arena and gains a solid company and some interesting products that extend digital content across multiple channels. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Austin, TX-based LibreDigital, founded in 1999 (as Newsstand, Inc.), is a leading provider of digital content distribution, ereading software, content conversion, data analytics, and business intelligence services to book, magazine, and newspaper publishers as well as to ereader device providers. The company started out providing digital copies of newspapers and in 2006 began to focus on the electronic book market. The company claims some “firsts.” “We became the first aggregator to deliver digital files to Amazon and created the first iPhone book application. We were also the first to offer book marketing widgets, and now, determined to uphold the pattern of revolutionary firsts, we are the leader in browser-based reading technology.”
LibreDigital now distributes content to more than 40 different digital marketplaces including Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Blio from Baker & Taylor, and Sony. Its publisher partners include HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, John Wiley & Sons, and more. Last fall, it launched a new HTML5 reader, powered by SkyShelf from LibreDigital, which allows customers to read books in the browser on their laptops, tablets and many smartphones.
“With this acquisition we uniquely position RR Donnelley to support publishers and other customers with capabilities that include physical and digital production and distribution,” stated John Paloian, RR Donnelley's chief operating officer. “For example, we can produce books in quantities from one to millions, prepare the same content for distribution to e-readers and provide valuable business intelligence to our customers throughout the entire process.”
Staci Kramer, writing at PaidContent, says, “In some respects, LibreDigital’s services for publishers in the digital space mirrors what Donnelley traditionally has done in print: digital printing, ‘warehousing”,’ and distribution. Acquiring LibreDigital gives RRD access to that for its own customers plus presence on smartphones, tablets and e-readers, social commerce, browsing technology, analytics and more.”
Noting that this acquisition followed by one day the announcement of the acquisition of Sequence Personal, a provider of proprietary software that enables readers to select relevant content to be digitally produced as specialized publications, Kramer says, “The series of digital moves give Donnelley more ability to move away from the print image, although traditional publishing is still its bread-and-butter.”
In March 2011, RRD acquired Journalism Online Inc., and its Press+ service, an online provider of tools that allow consumers to purchase online subscriptions from publishers.
In making the announcement of the LibreDigital acquisition RRD CEO Thomas J. Quinlan III said, “With services constituting more than 10% of our revenue, robust digital content creation and distribution resources, and capabilities that span the breadth of the supply chain, RR Donnelley has completely transcended the role of an ink-on-paper provider,” added Quinlan. “This acquisition enhances our capabilities as a provider of integrated communications solutions.”
Chicago-based RR Donnelley (Nasdaq: RRD), founded in 1864, has about 55,000 workers, more than 60,000 customers worldwide, and more than $10 billion in annual revenue. LibreDigital reportedly has 85 employees and will stay in Austin and expand.

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