Publishing veterans Jon Eaton and Tris Coburn, who founded Cadent Publishing in Thomaston, Maine, two years ago, are expanding their publishing operations with the purchase of 40-year-old Tilbury House, Publishers, in Gardiner, Maine. They bought the press on March 22 from longtime owner Neil Rolde and plan to grow both imprints as part of WordSplice Studio, LLC.
“It’s great news,” says Tilbury House publisher Jennifer Bunting. “This is a tough time to try to sell a publishing company and stay intact." Concerned about Rolde's age—he's 81—she began looking for a younger owner a year ago. "I wanted to find someone with the resources to take [Tilbury House] to the next level," she adds.
Eaton brings 30 years of experience in publishing, including 25 as publisher of the International Marine line of boating books under McGraw–Hill. Coburn began his editorial career 19 years ago at Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books, where he worked with nine New York Times bestselling authors. After returning to Maine, he was an acquisitions editor at McGraw-Hill before founding the Tristram C. Coburn Literary Management Agency in Camden.
For now, Tilbury House will remain in Gardiner and the staff will stay on. Eaton and Coburn plan to expand the press's frontlist and to up the number of children's books. Some years the press has published as many as 10 frontlist books. Tilbury House also has a strong regional list and Eaton and Coburn brought with them for the fall: Eating in Maine, based on Malcolm and Jillian Bedell’s blog at fromaway.com, and The Hidden Coast of Maine, with photos by Joe Devenney and essays by Ken Textor. In addition, Tilbury House will begin turning some of its titles into e-books. Cadent has already had success with the e-book format.
Among Tilbury House's bestsellers is E.B. White's One Man's Meat, which it published in 2003 after HarperCollins gave up rights. Late last month the press released a new collection of White's work, edited by his granddaughter Martha White, E.B. White on Dogs, which has received "great advances," according to Bunting.