Academic authors on both sides of the Atlantic will welcome a new publishing enterprise that merges the New York“based company Continuum and the academic and religious lists of the London-based publisher Cassell into a new venture to be known as Continuum International.

Continuum publishes serious nonfiction and scholarly monographs in the fields of history, social sciences, literature, arts, religion and women's studies. Founded in 1980 by its current chairman Werner Mark Linz, Continuum produces some 300 new titles a year and maintains a backlist of around 3000 titles. Linz will be publisher of the new group and president of the New York office; he has already promised some groundbreaking new projects.

Cassell has seen considerable changes in recent years. A long-established company, in 1986 it was the subject of a management buyout led by its current chairman, Philip Sturrock, who increased turnover from £3 million to £20 million. In 1998, Cassell rejected a hostile bid by Macmillan and was bought instead by the Orion Publishing Group, a subsidiary of the French publisher Hachette.

The Cassell list was mainly attractive to Orion for its distinguished fiction, illustrated nonfiction and reference lists. Although Orion had originally planned to develop the whole list, it recently decided to dispose of its academic and religious titles. Sturrock, who raised an undisclosed sum from venture capital to buy the lists, noted that the idea of combining with Continuum was a mutual one. Continuum has been the U.S. agent for the Cassell list since April 1998; at one stage, Sturrock had thought of trying to buy the company.

Sturrock, who will be chief executive of the new company and run the London office, said he is excited by the challenge of building up complimentary lists in the two offices.

Although there may have to be some redistribution, each will continue to concentrate on its particular strengths and build up existing programs. "It will not," he told PW, "be a U.K. company with a U.S. subsidiary, or vice versa, but a real attempt to forge an international publishing program."