News Shorts
Staff -- 9/4/00

Sun Books Looks for Buyer | Pleasant Co. Closes London Office
Court Moves Up at Penguin | Weak Period for Intervisual
N.Y. Editors Picked As Frankfurt Fellows
School Group Leads Gains at Harcourt
Maguire Joins Basic Books | Globe Pequot to Acquire Falcon
Ford Joins Scholastic | Obituary
Publishers Briefly

Sun Books Looks for BuyerSun Books, a division of Sun Publishing Co., has been put up for sale by its founder and owner Skip Whitson. Located in Santa Fe, N.Mex., Sun focuses on alternative and motivational books and has a backlist of more than 300 titles.

Whitson told PW he is looking to sell the division because he d sn't have the resources to move the company to the next level. The publisher has annual sales of about $100,000 that Whitson claims "is only a fraction of what the list could do with the right promotion." Sun typically publishes 10 books per year, although no new titles have been released to date this year.

Pleasant Co. Closes London Office, Lays Off 13
Pleasant Company has closed its London office less than a year after it opened, and reported that it has laid off 13 employees. An official from Pleasant Co. reported that management is exploring other opportunities within the company and within Mattel (the company's owner) for Ingrid Selberg, who was managing director of the London office.

The publisher had intended to use the British office to expand its American Girl line with international characters based on European history, but this idea is now on hold. It had planned to launch new series in England in 2001, in France in 2002 and in Germany in 2003. Pleasant Co. will return its focus to the U.S., but officials stressed that foreign deals that have been made for its American Girls titles will not be affected by the closure.
--Jason Britton

Court Moves Up at PenguinKathryn Court, who first joined Penguin in 1977, has been promoted to president of the Penguin Books imprint while also being named publisher of Plume. The announcement was made by Susan Petersen Kennedy, executive v-p of Penguin Putnam and chairman of Viking Penguin, who said, "It gives me great pleasure to recognize Kathryn's accomplishments over the years." Clare Ferraro remains president of Plume.

During her time at Penguin, Court has played a major role in developing its trade paperback program. Among her initiatives were launching the Contemporary American Fiction series and publishing literary fiction as trade paperback originals. Court has also edited a range of authors.

Weak Period for IntervisualA strong dollar that has hurt sales to European publishers as well as a delay in an order from an American publisher resulted in a disappointing first six months for Intervisual Books. Although sales for the six-month period ended June 30, 2000, rose 54.7% to $8.2 million, the company's net loss rose to $1 million from $891,977 in the first half of 1999. In the second quarter, sales were up 18.4%, to $4.5 million, but the loss increased to $602,135 from $438,600.

Company president Norm Sheinman is hopeful that a new joint venture with the U.K. publisher Aladdin Press will spark sales later in the year. The companies are developing two educational playsets featuring book-plus materials that will debut at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Another positive sign has been Intervisual's Piggy T s Press division, which more than doubled sales in the first half of 2000.

N.Y. Editors Picked As Frankfurt FellowsThree New York publishing folk are among the 16 young publishing professionals selected for this year's Frankfurt Book Fair Fellowship Program, which consists of an intensive orientation on the German book trade, followed by participation as guests of honor at the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair. They are Paul Elie, editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Jane von Mehren, associate publisher at Penguin Books; and Greer Kessel Hendricks, senior editor at Pocket Books.

Prior to the upcoming fair, October 18-23, the new fellows will visit German publishing houses and booksellers, with an option to stay on for up to three months as interns in local publishing companies. At the fair itself they will have the opportunity to meet with fellows chosen for the two previous years of the fellowship's existence.

The Frankfurt program is modeled on the Jerusalem Book Fair fellowship scheme, which in 15 years of activity has built up its own informal network of publishing people--many of whom are now heads of houses. Jerusalem will host its own breakfast meeting of alumni fellows during the Frankfurt Fair.
--Herbert R. Lottman

School Group Leads Gains at HarcourtLed by a 47.5% jump in sales in its elhi operation to $388.3 million, total revenues for the third quarter ended July 31, 2000, at Harcourt General rose 25.6% to $871.2 million. Income from continuing operations increased 42.8% to $173.4 million.

Robert Smith, co-CEO of Harcourt, said sales were extremely strong in all disciplines in the education group and that the company had done well in the major state adoptions in Texas, Florida, California and North Carolina. Operating earnings for the group rose 49.4% to $188.1 million.

Results were less bullish in Harcourt's three other operating groups in the quarter. Revenues in the higher education group increased 7.0% to $128.8 million, and operating earnings gained 12.9% to $43.0 million. Sales were up in its college operation, but were down slightly in its distance learning business due to the transfer of its Canadian operation to the international group and the closing of its Singapore operations. The STM group reported a 7.9% revenue gain to $194.3 million, and operating earnings rose 15.1% to $49.4 million. The corporate and professional services group had a 23.7% gain in revenues to $159.8 million, but operating earnings fell to $11.7 million from $12.8 million.

For the first nine months of the year, revenues increased 15.4% to $1.68 billion, and earnings from continuing operations gained 110% to $99.0 million.

Meanwhile, Harcourt's search for a buyer proceeded last month, with sources reporting that the company's investment banker, Goldman, Sachs & Co., received 12 bids.

Maguire to Join Basic Books

Maguire: Will help
expand Basic Books.
The Perseus Books Group has named Liz Maguire to the newly created post of v-p, associate publisher and editorial director of its Basic Books unit. Maguire, who had been v-p and editorial director at the Free Press, will join Basic September 25. She will report to John Donatich, publisher of Basic.
Jack McKeown, president of Perseus, told PW he was thrilled at the appointment of Maguire. "We have plans to significantly grow the Basic list and Liz will be an important part of the effort," he said. "She's a great leader who has tremendous editorial savvy," McKeown added. In addition to overseeing Basic's acquisition editors, Maguire will supervise Basic's managing editorial, pre-press production and design departments. Among the titles she has edited is Harriet Beecher Stowe by Joan Hedrick, which was a Pulitzer Prize winner for Biography. Other books include 1185 Park Avenue and I May Not Get There: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.

Globe Pequot to Acquire Falcon The Globe Pequot Press has signed a preliminary agreement with Landmark Communications to acquire the assets of its Falcon Publishing subsidiary. A Globe spokesperson told PW that the company is conducting due diligence; no date has been set for completing the deal.

If the purchase is consummated, Globe will increase its presence in the travel and outdoor recreation categories. Currently based in Helena, Mont., Falcon is best known for its outdoor travel guidebooks published under the FalconGuides imprint and its guides to American cities and regions published as the Insiders' Guides. Other imprints include TwoDot, Three-Forks and Skyhouse, which publish titles on regional history, nature, cooking and conservation. The company has a backlist of more than 800 titles.

Ford Joins ScholasticScholastic has named Beth Ford to the new position of senior v-p, global operations. Ford, who joined Scholastic August 21, reports to company chairman Dick Robinson. Before moving to Scholastic, Ford had been senior supply chain logistics executive at the Pepsi Bottling Group. In her new post, Ford will be responsible for Scholastic's global manufacturing, distribution, order processing, fulfillment, customer service, corporate graphic services, paper purchasing and inventory.

Obituary: Linda GreyLinda Grey, who served as president and publisher of Bantam Books and Ballantine Books during different points in her publishing career, died last week after a brief illness. Grey began her publishing career at Dell and moved to Bantam Books in 1981 where she was named editorial director. In 1985, she was promoted to be Bantam publisher and added the role of president in 1987. In spring 1992 Grey stepped down from those positions and started her own imprint, Linda Grey Books, but was lured to head Ballantine that fall by her former boss at Bantam, Alberto Vitale who described her as "an innovative publisher and superb editor." With Bertelsmann's acquisition of Random House, Grey was put in charge of the Ballantine Publishing Group, a position she held until she resigned in February 1999.

by Calvin Reid
Premature Evaluation
Last Gasp Keeps on Truckin'

Visual Power



We've all heard stories about a wildly successful self-published book that no New York house would take a chance on, right? Well, here's another one. In 1986 Paul Joannides, a research psychoanalyst, started working on a book about sex that he hoped would be intelligent and exciting to read. "I thought it would take six months," Joannides told PW. It took 10 years. The book is Guide to Getting It On!: The Universe's Coolest and Most Informative Book on Sex (with anatomically correct illustrations by Daerick Gross), a comprehensive (696 pages), well-researched and funny reference work that provides a down-to-earth look at every aspect of doing the
Cool sex guide.
nasty. The book went through many revisions and received as many rejections before being self-published to great success by Joannides's own Goofy Foot Press. "The book takes away the anxiety of sex," said Joannides. "It makes you laugh." GFP originally published 3,000 copies in 1996. The book is now in its third edition with a total of 150,000 copies in print in English; it sells very well in four or five other languages. Joannides told us he's turned down big offers from many of the same big publishers that nixed his original manuscript. The book has been adopted in 20 U.S. colleges, and Joannides said he expects to release a revised edition every two years or so. GFP also publishes Handcuff Blues: Helping Teens Stay Out of Trouble with the Law by Toni E. Johnson, and Joannides is now working on his next book ("a companion to Getting It On," he said), A Guide to Great Dates,with 250 suggestions for presex socializing.

Last Gasp Keeps on Truckin'

Thirty years ago at a party in Berkeley, a young and very likely stoned psychology grad student picked up an underground comic book called Zap and found his calling. Not long after that bleary-eyed epiphany, the grad student, Ron Turner, founded Last Gasp, "publisher and distributor of the arcane." Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Last Gasp has 25 employees and annual revenues of $3 million. It distributes more than 16,000 book and comics titles from more than 600 U.S. and international vendors, including 200 book titles and 200 comic book titles from its own backlist. This year LG is publishing 22 trade paper titles in contemporary literature, art, alternative comics, political satire and, a staple of the fringe culture marketplace, weird sex books. In 2000, LG published In Smog and Thunder: Historical Works from the Great War of the Californias by Sandow Birk, an absolutely hilarious history of a fictional civil war between Northern and Southern California illustrated by Birk's equally funny paintings, which are based on Goya and other great artists of war. There's also Orgasm by Tony Ward ("quality photography despite the lurid subject matter"); Hello My Big Big Honey by Richard Erlich, very funny translated love letters written by Western travelers to Thai prostitutes. LG also distributes about 500 children's titles--"only about a third of what we do here is really perverse," Turner joked. Turner even put in a futile bid on the U.S. rights to Harry Potter: "I guess I didn't offer enough."

Visual Power

Dan Power started PowerHouse Books in 1995 after leaving D.A.P., the Manhattan-based art book distributor he cofounded. PowerHouse Books publishes beautifully designed, lavishly produced visual books by young designers, photographers and artists. The formula has worked well for the downtown New York house, which has grown from three or four books a year in 1996-97 to 25 books last year. Previously the house did its own marketing and distribution, but that will be taken over by PGW as PHB makes plans to release more than 30 books in 2001. Power told PW
Cool black bikers
that PHB had "just under" $1 million in sales in 1999 and expects to do $2 million in sales this year. "It's easy to do it yourself with four books a year," said Power, "but above that you get behind. We'll let PGW get the books in the stores on time." Power's program is best illustrated by such books as X-Ray, a lavish photo collection by art director and fashion photographer François Nars along with legendary Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley. PHB books are aimed at the "high-end, east coast fashion and art market," he said. The $85 book sold out its 3,000-copy printing and received great notice and subsequent international magazine serial sales. "We learned how a young photographer can help promotion and turn a book into a bonanza," said Power. Power also added Juno Books, a popular list of fringe culture titles published by Andrea Juno, to the PowerHouse stable, including the aptly titled Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex by Katherine Gates, a fascinating survey of outrageous sexual habits. "Andrea is more interested in editing than the business side, so we structured a marketing agreement to help her out," said Power. Other PHB successes include Women Before 10 a.m. by Veronique Vial (30,000 copies sold and a plug from Oprah). This fall, look for Brooklyn Kings: New York City's Black Bikers by Martin Dixon (with a foreword by Greg Tate) and Popular by Thierry Le Gouès, photographs of Cuban street and club life, as well as books from photographers Larry Clark, Patrick Cariou and William Claxton.