Start Publishing, which has bought a number of e-book publishing companies over the last 18 months, has made its biggest purchase to date, acquiring the assets of San Francisco-based Cleis Press, Viva Editions and Tempted Romance.
The purchase adds about 800 titles to Start’s catalogue, giving the company a total of approximately 5,200 titles. The Cleis acquisition also marks Start’s foray into print books since, up until now, the company has only done digital titles.
Start Publishing president Jarred Weisfeld said Start will continue Cleis’s print program, releasing Cleis print and digital titles simultaneously. He noted, however, that Start’s focus remains on acquiring e-book publishers and will take on print if it makes sense.
Cleis’s titles, both print and digital, will continue to be distributed by PGW. Viva and Tempted Romance e-books will also be distributed by PGW. NBN/Fusion will continue to do distribution for Start’s other e-book imprints, which include Night Shade Books (recently moved from PGW to NBN Fusion), Salvo Press, and Start Science Fiction, as well as Start Publishing’s main line; Fusion also handles distribution to trade e-book retailers for Mason Crest.
Cleis, best known for its books and human sexuality and erotica titles, will remain in San Francisco under the direction of Brenda Knight, who will serve as publisher for all three imprints. Cleis principals Felice Newman and Frederique Delacoste, are retiring. As it has with its earlier purchases, Start will assume responsibility for Cleis’s business operations, while leaving publishing and marketing functions to Knight and her team.
Start Publishing is the book division of Start Media, which is a privately held media company with interests in exhibition, feature film production and financing. With its e-book backlist now over 5,000 titles, Weisfeld said the company will see what titles may be right to use in other media, including film. And Weisfeld said Start remains interested in buying more e-book based companies. “We have no plans to stop acquiring,” Weisfeld said.
The acquisition of Cleis comes after a wave of purchases by Start. In June 2013 Start bought the e-book rights to the catalogue of Night Shade Books (with Skyhorse Publishing acquiring the print rights to the titles). Then, in September 2013, Start purchased Salvo Press. The Salvo deal was followed, this summer, by acquisitions of Whiskey Creek Press and Mason Crest.
“We couldn’t be happier with our acquisitions,” Weisfeld said.