Two former book publishing CEOs have teamed up for a series of acquisitions in the book field. The first of those purchases has just closed—Lezen Acquisition LLC has purchased Arcadia Publishing, the Charleston, S.C.-based publisher that specializes in doing books on local history.
Lezen was formed by Michael Lynton and his sister Lili. Prior to serving as CEO of Sony Entertainment, Lynton had been CEO of Penguin. He will serve as non-executive chairman of Arcadia.
The Lyntons were brought into the Arcadia deal by David Steinberger who was CEO of the Perseus Books Group before its publishing arm was sold to Hachette Book Group and its distribution business went to Ingram. Since his departure from Perseus, rumors have floated that Steinberger was looking for funding to create a publishing company that would mirror Perseus.
The Lyntons are committed, Steinberger said, to buying a string of publishers. Steinberger told PW he is in conversations with several companies that he thinks would fit well with his vision of a new publishing group. He is looking for publishers with a strong regional presence, but is also interested in other publishers that have the opportunity to grow.
Steinberger will serve as CEO of Arcadia. He said he has no plans to build a distribution business, noting that Arcadia, which has a backlist of 14,000 titles, does its own distribution.
He called the Lyntons the perfect financial backers, citing their long involvement with books. In addition to Michael’s term as Penguin CEO, he and Lili set up the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project in the 1990s. Steinberger said they are committed to publishing for the long term.
“We see an overlooked opportunity to create value in the book industry by backing the right management team and building a unique publishing company through a series of targeted acquisitions,” Michael Lynton said in a statement. “Today represents an important first step on this path.”