The LPC Group has signed a letter of intent to acquire Carol Publishing. Terms of the deal, which is set to close within the next several months, were not disclosed.

Carol publisher Steven Schragis told PW the company received offers from a number of different companies but felt LPC "was the best fit." LPC is currently the distributor for approximately 100 independent publishers; the Carol acquisition marks the company's entry into owning a publishing house. "Given the way the book business is evolving, we felt it made sense to get more involved with owning content," David Wilk, president of LPC, explained.

Wilk noted that LPC will examine what synergies exist between the two companies before deciding on how the businesses will be structured. One area that is likely to be looked into first is distribution: currently, Carol handles its own distribution, and LPC has its own distribution network.

Wilk told PW that LPC intends to retain the names of Carol's imprints, including Citadel Press, Birch Lane Press and Lyle Stuart. In addition, Schragis will remain publisher of Carol, and Bruce Bender will remain president. Both will report to Wilk.

Carol publishes 100-125 new books annually and has a backlist of 1300 titles in such areas as entertainment, New Age, Judaica and gambling. The company's annual net sales are in the $13-$14 million range. Schragis noted that Carol was profitable last year; he put the company up for sale at the end of last year, believing that Carol needed to become bigger if it were to compete effectively in today's publishing environment (News, Jan. 4).

According to Wilk, LPC is coming off a "spectacular year," in which sales increased by more than 20%. Among the publishers for which it distributes are Marvel Comics, Park Avenue Publishers, Common Courage Books and Marion Boyar. The purchase of Carol will put LPC in the same category as Publishers Group West and the Rowman &Littlefield Publishing Group, both of which operate distribution companies and also own publishing houses.