Simon & Schuster Interactive: on the block

In case you didn’t realize that interactive CDROMs weren’t a massive revenue stream, Simon and Schuster, one of the last holdouts of the interactive books = huge future profits camp, has today announced that its Interactive group is available for purchase, reports Publishers Weekly. As PW puts it: “Simon & Schuster has put its Simon & Schuster Interactive unit up for
sale. Founded in the mid-1990s to focus on the creation of CD-ROM
product, S&SI now also develops materials for various video game
formats plus online games. An S&S spokesperson says the company is
looking to sell the unit because it is not a core operation.”



The article continues:

S&SI is not signing any new products, although the unit will publish
projects that are already under development. While some staff at what
was a small S&SI division were let go last week, a number of key
personnel, including Giles Dana, president and publisher of S&S new
media, are remaining to bring out new titles and to oversee operations
until a sale is concluded.

S&S is one of the few book publishers that still operate in the
multimedia field. The company had a number of solid properties led by
Star Trek. Other series that have sold well for the company include
Typing Tutor and the Outlaw line. S&SI has more than 100 active
titles.

I’m sorry to see this happen. I still think that the theory, at least, of highly interactive electronic media is a viable one. Of course, I look at my shelves and realize I’ve never purchased anything in this segment, but that’s, um, different anyway, right?

3 comments on “Simon & Schuster Interactive: on the block

  1. I think the problem with Interactive CD-ROM’s (and DVD-ROMs for that matter) is that they rarely end up being more than a website on a disc. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interactive disc with any kind of compelling content that wasn’t easier to get somewhere else, whether that be from a website or old fashioned print media, or whatever.

  2. I agree with you, Brad. The promise of interactive CDROMs was high, but the reality is that most of ’em weren’t much more than a pile of documents loosely stitched together. Honestly, some of the best I’ve seen were actually secret HyperCard projects, like the original Myst game and, um, I think it was called Manhole? An interactive kids CDROM game loosely based on “Alice in Wonderland”. Even the Encyclopaedia Britannica seems somewhat lackluster as an “interactive” CDROM and goodness knows that the CDROM version of the venerable Oxford English Dictionary was a truly awful disk, barely worth the cost of a cup of tea, let alone the hundreds of dollars they wanted for it.

  3. And a late breaking update from the wires:
    Unable to find a buyer interested in acquiring all Simon & Schuster
    Interactive, the publisher has closed down the unit. S&S had put SSI,
    publisher of CD-ROMs and video games, up for sales in early September
    The closure of the unit has resulted in the departure of Giles Dana
    who had been president and publisher of Simon & Schuster’s new media
    division.

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