RosettaBooks to open in London

E-book publisher RosettaBooks is to open an office in London, its first outside of the US.

The investment signals an ambition to acquire more titles from UK agents including UK rights, as well as to exploit its growing list worldwide. The UK office will be run by Jonathan Ward.

Arthur Klebanoff [pictured], who founded New York-based digital publisher in 2001, said the move was part of a "broad outreach for titles". Rosetta has previously sought unassigned US or world rights from UK agents, and last year acquired the digital rights to Sir Winston Churchill's published writing through Curtis Brown.

Klebanoff told The Bookseller: "We are looking in all backlist categories for books which sell well and authors with many fans. While we will entertain UK-only or US-only rights we hope as with the complete works of Churchill to acquire world English rights."

Rosetta claims to offer a royalty more than double that on offer from large publishers–a 50% net royalty payment for up to 2,500 copies sold and then 60% after. The publisher has an e-book catalogue of 500 titles, including titles such as John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and The Graduate by Charles Webb, for which it holds world e-book rights.

Klebanoff said he planned to grow the list quickly. "We hope to add several hundred titles overall and feel that many of our best prospects are from the UK. We will act as quickly as the opportunities present themselves."

In January Rosetta said its 2012 sales rose 80% and said that it paid out more than $2m in royalties to authors and other rights holders. It also announced the appointment of Roger Cooper as associate publisher-at-large.

Klebanoff said Ward would have "full coordinated support of our New York-based team for production and distribution, marketing and royalty", and that he would look to grow the UK office if appropriate. "I would love to have him recommend that we should expand our UK presence," Klebanoff said.

Rosetta was an early pioneer of e-book-only publishing, and won a legal battle in the US in 2001 against Random House US, when the publisher tried to block Rosetta from acquiring e-book rights to titles it published in print. In the UK it will face competition from a growing number of e-book only publishing lists intent on mining backlists for classic titles, such as Orion's SF Gateway and The Murder Room initiatives, Curtis Brown and Pan Macmillan's Bello, and Bloomsbury Reader.

Ward, who has most recently been working for Muzzy publisher Early Advantage on its international business strategy, added: "I look forward to helping RosettaBooks build up its portfolio of high-performance titles, and to introducing its excellent e-book collection to new markets around the globe."