Caxton Press Upgrading, Experimenting
Jim Milliot -- 11/13/00
Billionaire's story
a hot seller.
In its 75th year in operation, Caldwell, Idaho's, Caxton Press is working to become a larger presence among Western publishers. "We're reinventing what we're doing," said Scott Gipson, v-p and publisher of Caxton Press, noting that the company is using technology to upgrade its entire publishing operation.
The book unit was known as Caxton Printers for about 70 years before it changed its name to Caxton Press in an effort to differentiate itself from its parent company. The push to expand its book division is being led by Gipson, who is the great-great-grandson of Caxton founder A.E. Gipson; he joined the book unit in 1996 and became publisher over the summer. While the company will remain focused on publishing nonfiction titles about the American West, Gipson hopes to generate more sales per copy from each title and to strengthen the company's backlist. To meet the latter goal, Gipson has created Caxton Classics, which will bring back a number of out-of-print Caxton titles, including children's books. Fifteen titles are scheduled to be released in early 2001 with print runs of approximately 150; the short runs will be printed by Lightning Source. Gipson plans to reprint 50 to 60 o.p. titles over the next two years, which will bring the company's backlist up to about 150 titles.

Gipson said Caxton will continue to publish between five to seven new titles per year with first printings ranging from 5,000 to 10,000. Most of the company's hardcovers are printed by outside printers, while Gipson uses its parent company to print its trade paperbacks. The company uses a group of commissioned sales forces to sell the line and handles its own fulfillment. According to Gipson, Caxton is having its best year in the last eight, helped by a strong response to the recently released biography by Louie Attebery of Idaho tycoon J.R. Simplot. Approximately two-thirds of the 7,000-copy first printing of J.R. Simplot: A Billion the Hard Way sold out in less than a month, and Gipson is preparing to go back to press. Sales have also been good for Dreamers: On the Trail of the Nez Perce by Martin Stadius, part of Caxton's Native American series and chosen as a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's Book of the Year for 2000. And while the company is committed to focusing on publishing regional nonfiction titles about the Intermountain West, one of its strongest annual sellers has been Ayn Rand's Anthem, first published by Caxton in 1953 and now in its 12th printing, with well over 100,000 copies sold.