After being away for eight years, Rich Freese will return to National Book Network July 6, as president of the Lanham, Md.-based distributor. With his appointment, Jed Lyons, who has served as NBN president since it was founded 23 years ago, will focus on the publishing operations of NBN’s sister company, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. “When Rich was here we had a great run,” Lyons said. “I’m excited to have him back.”

Freese spent nine years at NBN as senior v-p of sales until 2001 when he left to become president of MotorBooks International. Since then, he has been president of Publishers Group West and most recently served as president of the distribution startup, BookMasters Distribution Services. Freese said he will help with the transition at BookMasters until he leaves for NBN. Freese will remain in the San Francisco Bay area, where NBN will open a sales and marketing office. Freese, who will also have an office in NBN’s Lanham headquarters, said the chance to run NBN, which can draw on the infrastructure of RLPG to get NBN titles into academic and professional markets, “was too good to pass up. It gives me the best platform I’ve ever had.”

NBN handles distribution for about 100 clients and has annual net sales in North America and the U.K. of $100 million. RLPG, which publishes approximately 1,250 new books annually, has sales of $60 million, and Lyons said he is looking forward to expanding both NBN and RLPG.

Dave Wurster, co-owner of BookMasters, said, "Rich's time here was absolutely fantastic and he was a key part of positioning us to move forward." With his pending departure, BookMasters is in the process of selecting someone to handle publisher acquisitions, and Wurster said BookMasters Distribution Services will continue to move forward.