Less than a week after announcing its acquisition of Counterpoint Press, Winton, Shoemaker & Co. LLC has acquired Soft Skull Press. Soft Skull publisher Richard Nash will join the new company as executive editor and will be editorial director of the Soft Skull imprint run from a New York office. Price wasn’t disclosed.
Charlie Winton, chairman and publisher of Winton, Shoemaker and former chairman of Avalon, said both the Counterpoint and Soft Skull acquisitions are expected to go through in June, when the company’s name will officially change to Counterpoint LLC. This is the third acquisition for Winton, Shoemaker, which bought Shoemaker & Hoard in February when Perseus bought Avalon. Jack Shoemaker will be vice president editorial director of Counterpoint, and Roxanna Font Aliaga, current managing editor of Shoemaker & Hoard, will be the managing editor of the entire publishing group.
In acquiring Soft Skull and keeping Nash, Winton said he found an editor to compliment Shoemaker and a way to quickly expand the new Counterpoint’s backlist. He expects Counterpoint to be the primary publishing imprint with literary fiction, some mysteries and expanded nonfiction, and Soft Skull to be edgier and include graphic novels. Soft Skull has a backlist of about 150 titles and 20 books under contract. The company had been hard hit by the bankruptcy of its distributor, PGW, and Nash had been looking for new sources of financing. With sales below $2 million, Nash noted that "our scale is not a stable scale. I owe to my authors and myself to operate from a stable base." Nash said he was looking forward to working, and learning, from Winton and Shoemaker.
PW named Nash one of the ten editors to watch in 2005 and the Association of American Publishers awarded him the Miriam Bass prize for creativity in publishing last year (even though Nash was quite critical of the AAP’s Google lawsuit.) He joined Soft Skull in 2001 in the middle of the controversy surrounding the publication of Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President. Under Nash, the press continued to make headlines with books that included: Skipping Toward Armageddon: The Politics and Propaganda of the Left Behind Novels and the LaHaye Empire by Michael Standaert and its recently updated, re-titled version of the essay collection, America’s Mayor, America’s President? The Strange Career of Rudy Giuliani by Robert Polner with an introduction by Jimmy Breslin.
"Richard has also been very adept at working in the international markets, in terms of rights, especially in the U.K.," said Winton. "With [Nash] at Counterpoint, as we are trying to tap into booksellers, agents and international publishers, he’s a well-loved character."
"Charlie is orchestrating something really interesting with two distinct editorial sensibilities," said City Lights buyer Paul Yamasaki, when he heard Nash would be working with Shoemaker. He added that the acquisition will "give Soft Skull the institutional stability that will let Richard do what he does best, publish great books."
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