From Cultura to the takeover of children’s publishers, Sodival inserts

Last February, a new participant entered the world of books, and Sodi-Art Editions (re)opened its doors. The Sodival holding thus revived one of its subsidiaries with a clear project. ” Make editing closer and more accessible. By carrying two ideas, beautiful and simple: to democratize writing and to promote access to reading “Explained Nicolas Faroux, CEO, and Didier Ballot, President, to ActuaLitté.

It is that, after two years of collaboration with Librinova, Sodival considered that the experience was sufficient and ended the established collaboration with Cultura. The combined offer of self-publishing and distribution was coming to an end, in favor of a reflection around an offer to authors – this time through an in-house, turnkey product. However, if Nicolas Faroux left the company in April 2021, the development continues, with some purchases made recently.

Youth galore

In March 2016, there was a small thunderclap in the youth edition: Palettehuset, specializing in artwork for the little ones, was bought by Rue des Écoles. This group already had several editorial structures, ranging from educational resources to works for young and old readers.

In January of the following year, co-founder Didier Baraud abandoned ship, leading to serious concerns among the writers. And this, until it led to a joint action against the new boss, Philippe Sylvestre: They were about sixty to demand payment of delayed copyright. A procedure that ultimately yielded nothing.

Since then the dust has settled and we had heard no more about the structure – except during the sale of the Arthaud bookstore in Grenoble. The establishment was taken over after the liquidation of the Chapitre group in 2013 and then entered the Rue des Écoles fold to leave it in October 2020.

There is still the big unknown: why Sodi-Art Editions, founded in January 2006 by Sodival – holding company led by Philippe Van Der Wees, and main shareholder in Cultura – is interested in the youth segment?

In 2018, Sodi-Art Editions made a radical change: from a structure whose purpose is the sale of articles, products or services in the cultural, artistic, creative, educational and decorative fields (even fast food), it was completely refocused. From now on, it is devoted to publishing in all its forms, in France and abroad – but remains the sole partner, the property of Sodival.

External growth exercise

In the beginning of the summer rains, Sodi-Art had made several investments, starting with the world of creative hobbies with magazines and books published by Editions de Saxe. The company was founded in 1962 and is itself the result of a takeover of the newspaper La Broderie lyonnaise – dedicated to household linen.

And to complete the list, the houses of the Rue des Écoles group have become the property of Sodi-Art – Circonflexe, À dos d’âne, Palette, Mila Editions, Millepages, Mouck and Rue des enfants. Added to this are the Garnier editions – which offer reference works in French language and literature – as well as the online store Place teachers, noted ActuaLitté. Enough to feed the various segments of a library.

Overall, these different structures represent around 50 employees – and many partnerships are already underway. For example, the publishing house Rue des écolesRevise your matriculation exam with Le Monde— collection outside of classes for students in Première and Terminale. A collaboration among many others.

At the same time, La Cultura has set up a number of writing workshops, marketed under its own name. Author Alexandre Jardin worked directly with the brand on a learning methodology. For its part, Sodi-Art has an online author services and self-publishing platform, L’Écritoire. This relays information related to the workshops. Originally delivered online – Covid obliges – these will arrive in stores this year. Participants can then market their book online through the dedicated L’Écritoire bookstore.

In its documents, Sodi-Art states that its editorial brand, Merci les livres, is likely to offer a publishing contract and then publish the most interesting self-published works. All with broadcasting and distribution handed over to Dilisco. When contacted, Sodi-Art declined to comment on this information.

So what strategy does Sodival have with this strong expansion in the book industry, on the publishing side and across several editorial segments? Because only the 9th art (comics, manga, comics) would be missing for Sodi-Art to have a global offering. Likewise, what will the synergies be in the future with the hundred stores of the Cultura brand throughout France? The bets are open.

Recall that Sodival recently acquired the digital company Vivlio – where the holding company had been the second largest shareholder since 2012. A supplier of both e-readers and digital books through its bookstore, the company founded by Guillaume Decitre markets services to professionals. It supplies the e-commerce sites of several operators in France as well as in Belgium and Germany.

image credits: Ben White/Unsplash

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