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SMP Brings Academic Books to the Trade
Calvin Reid -- 1/10/00

At a time when some university presses seem more interested in snagging a trade bestseller than issuing a scholarly monograph, Michael Flamini, editorial director of the scholarly and reference division of St. Martin's Press, is quick to point out that the division has always successfully balanced publishing for the trade and the serious academic market.

Flamini told PW that the division published approximately 140 titles last year, including monographs and nearly 100 academic works on history, literature, political science, gender studies and other disciplines. It also publishes about 15 to 20 trade-oriented titles through the SMP trade book division that often provide surprisingly high sell-throughs.

"We compete with the university presses," said Flamini, citing large UPs such as the University of Chicago, Princeton and Harvard. "We're a commercial press interested in scholarly works. Our monographs get the same peer review of the UPs, but we're large enough to make some titles more profitable," he added.

Senior editor Karen Wolny ech d Flamini, noting that SMP, which publishes about 1,500 titles a year, can turn around scholarly books faster and at a lower production cost, particularly for paper, than any UP. "We market our academic titles like a UP," said Wolny. "We're a big presence at all the conferences, such as the Modern Language Association, and we utilize our trade sales force, publicity machine and distribution channels. We can help academics reach the general educated reader as well as the Yale professor."

The division even has a serendipitous history of informal "tie-ins"--S&R trade titles on topics that happen to be in the news or in popular culture. The popularity of the 1997 movie Titanic helped the division's 1997 title Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage, edited by Donald Hyslop et al., sell 69,000 hardcover copies and 8,000 paperback copies. The 1998 trade edition of Regine Pernoud and Marie-Veronique Clin's Joan of Arc: Her Story sold 10,000 copies in hardcover. With the release of the recent film on Joan of Arc, the October 1999 trade paperback has sold nearly 20,000 copies to date.

In 2000, the division has high hopes for several of its titles, including Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement G s to Market by Katherine Chasin in May. Later in 2000, the division will publish A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, the official companion volume to a four-hour documentary, also produced by the two authors) on the history of nonviolence to be aired on PBS. "We basically apply trade savvy to an academic market," explained Wolny. "That's a very rare find among the top trade publishers."
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