News Shorts
Staff -- 1/8/01

Alloy Online Acquires Girl Press | Wendy Lamb Books to Debut at RH
Reich Named President of Avalon Publishing Group | Millbrook Firms Up New Imprint
Scholastic Buys Pfeifer-Hamilton Kids' List | Langenscheidt Expands in France
Berlitz Gets Buyout Offer from Parent Company | Trilogy Extends Offer Deadline for Chapters
Executives Exit Meulenhoff | BCA Buys Smithmark Assets

Alloy Online Acquires Girl PressAlloy Online, in conjunction with its 17th Street Productions entertainment division, has acquired the assets of Girl Press for an undisclosed price. Located in Los Angeles, Girl Press is best known for publishing edgy books for girls and has had hits with Real Rules for Girls and Cool Women.

Pam Nelson, founder of Girl Press, will remain as president of the division, reporting to Les Morgenstein, president of 17th Street. Morgenstein said the Los Angeles office will remain open and that he expects to increase the size of the staff beyond its current level of three people. According to Morgenstein, the purchase of Girl Press gives Alloy the ability to do its own publishing; 17th Street will continue in its role as a book packager. Although Morgenstein said he plans to expand the scope of Girl Press's publishing program, he said those plans will not conflict with the company's packaging operations. Girl Press has 10 books in its pipeline and Morgenstein said he expects to up the unit's output to 16 in 2002 and, eventually, to 24 titles annually. Plans call for adding fiction and serious nonfiction titles such as biographies.

As part of expanding Girl Press's publishing program, 17th Street has reworked its distribution deal with the LPC Group. Under the new arrangement, LPC will be responsible for manufacturing, sales and distribution, while Alloy/17th Street will handle content development and marketing. In addition, 17th Street will begin to re-release selected books from its 1,000 out of print library, which will be distributed through LPC.
--Jim Milliot

Wendy Lamb Books to Debut at RHWendy Lamb, formerly executive editor at Delacorte, has been named publishing director of Wendy Lamb Books and v-p, Random House Children's Books. She will continue to report to Beverly Horowitz, v-p and publisher at RHCB Trade Group.

Lamb's first list will launch in spring 2002, and she plans to eventually publish 10 to 15 books a year. "I'm excited about this opportunity to publish people in the best possible way and to be able to give them the attention they deserve," she said. Over the last 18 years, Lamb has worked on a number of award-winning books with such authors as Christopher Paul Curtis, Gary Paulsen, Patricia Reilly Giff and Walter Dean Myers. In 1999, Lamb received the LMP Award for Editorial Achievement in Children's Publishing.
--Jason Britton

Reich Named President of Avalon Publishing GroupSusan Reich, executive vice-president and COO of Avalon Publishing Group, has been promoted to president, and remains COO. She continues to report to chairman and CEO Charlie Winton, who also heads Publishers Group West.

Under Reich's direction, Avalon has grown to a $24-million company and now has two publishing arms: a trade division based in New York City and a travel division in Berkeley, Calif. "We publish 200 titles a year out of New York, and 75 out of Avalon Travel Publishing in California," said Reich. Last year, earnings grew 40%, and revenues for the travel publishing group alone reached $10 million. Reich expects total revenues to increase by 10% in 2001.

Avalon's approach in acquiring new companies under a single publishing umbrella has been to keep the editorial programs distinct while pooling marketing and production resources. Now in its third year, the number of companies under its aegis has reached a level where copublishing ventures are playing an increasingly significant role--particularly in the New York trade operations.

Avalon publisher Carroll & Graf teamed up with Mysterious Books founder Otto Penzler last year to launch a new line of mysteries called Otto Penzler Books. Ten to 12 titles a year are expected. Also launched last year was a partnership between Thunder's Mouth Press and the Nation's Dan Weaver; it, too, is planning to publish 10-12 titles a year, among them work from the magazine, as well as new writing on culture and politics.

Two copublishing ventures are completely within the Avalon trade family. Thunder's Mouth and Balliet & Fitzgerald (previously a packager, now a copublisher) joined forces to create the Adrenaline imprint, a line of adventure and survival books that are primarily anthologies. And just launched in December is a new series called Illumina, a copublishing venture between Marlow & Co. and Balliet & Fitzgerald, which released two titles in 2000 and expects six more in 2001.

"We have a lot of interesting relationships at the moment," said Reich. "What we're trying to do is build an infrastructure that enables each company to publish the books they're passionate about."

In May 2001, the New York trade imprints will be moving to shared space in new Wall Street offices. "We're expecting to occupy 7,300 square feet," said Reich. The corporate offices will remain in Berkeley as part of the Publishers Group Inc.
--Roxane Farmanfarmaian

Millbrook Firms Up New ImprintThe Millbrook Press has finalized a name for its recently formed children's trade imprint (News, Sept. 25, 2000). Roaring Brook Press will launch with approximately 15 titles in spring 2002.

Deborah Brodie, formerly executive editor at Viking Children's Books, will join Roaring Brook as executive editor on January 29. Brodie, who will be working from her home, leaves Viking after 22 years, having worked with such noted authors as Patricia Reilly Giff, David Adler, James Stevenson and Jane Yolen. She will continue in her position as coordinator of faculty for the Writing for Children MFA program at the New School.

Brodie joins Simon Boughton, publisher of Roaring Brook, who described the imprint's list as "author and literature driven, high-quality and distinctive." They plan to publish about 40 titles--picture books, novels and other formats--per year. "I think real opportunities exist for small houses in today's highly consolidated publishing industry," Boughton said. "There are some things a small house can do well--and in some cases even better--than a big house."

In addition to the launch of Roaring Brook, Millbrook will expand its Copper Beech and Twenty-First Century imprints, moves that "will serve to further increase sales in fiscal 2002 and beyond," company president Jeff Conrad said. For the fiscal year ending July 31, 2001, the company reported in its quarterly filing with the SEC it expects that sales and earnings will be in line with fiscal 2000 results, when the company had earnings of $1.1 million on sales of $21.4 million.
--Jason Britton

Scholastic Buys Pfeifer-Hamilton Kids' ListScholastic has acquired the rights to Pfeifer-Hamilton's children's books, including the bestselling titles Old Turtle and The Quiltmaker's Gift. To date, the Duluth, Minn.-based publisher has sold more than 800,000 copies of Old Turtle, and more than 200,000 copies of The Quiltmaker's Gift. Effective February 15, Scholastic Press will publish all nine books on the P-H children's backlist.

"Scholastic is adopting our babies," said Donald Tubesing, publisher at Pfeifer-Hamilton, who cited Scholastic's ability to distribute the P-H books to a greater audience as a major factor behind the deal. "This is also an opportunity to launch the careers of our authors and illustrators more widely," he said.

Tubesing and his wife, Nancy Loving Tubesing, copublisher at P-H, will work with Scholastic on a consulting basis. Although
P-H will no longer publish children's books, the divestiture will not affect the company's adult list, which it will continue to publish as usual.
--Jason Britton

Langenscheidt Expands in FranceMunich-based Langenscheidt continues to expand globally. Already a major map publisher in the United States, it has now expanded in France with the acquisition of cartographer Blay Foldex, whose annual sales exceed $12 million. Still family owned and operated, the German firm controls Britain's GeoCenter International, Océano-Langenscheidt in Spain and Langenscheidt Polska. It publishes under the logos Langenscheidt, Polyglott, APA, Duden, Brockhaus and Hexaglot.

In the U.S., Langenscheidt Publishers operates under a number of imprints, including American Map (for the American Map Corporation), Insight Travel Guides, Hagstrom Map, Arrow Map, Creative Map, ADC Map and Thakker Map. It produces bilingual dictionaries, textbooks for Spanish, German and French as a foreign language, plus language-learning cassette packs.
--Herbert R. Lottman

Berlitz Gets Buyout Offer from Parent CompanyThe Benesse Corp., a Japanese company that together with its U.S. subsidiary Benesse Holdings International owns a 76% stake in Berlitz International, has made an offer to acquire all the remaining outstanding shares of the company. Under the proposal, Benesse will buy the balance of the stock for $12 per share, making the deal worth approximately $27 million. A committee of disinterested directors is evaluating the proposal.

Berlitz had total sales of $446 million in 1999 and a net loss of $13 million. Its largest division is its instruction unit, which operates more than 300 language centers worldwide. Its book publishing division, which publishes travel guides, phrase books, bilingual dictionaries, children's language products and self-teaching language audios, typically accounts for approximately 3% of overall revenues and posted worldwide sales of $12.9 million in 1999. For the first nine months of 2000, publishing revenues were $8.5 million, down from $10.2 million in the same period in 1999. The decline in sales was attributed primarily to a decrease in licensing revenue.

Ellen Adler, head of Berlitz's worldwide publishing program, said that for the full year, sales in the company's English-language markets were up, although there was softness in its European businesses. Travel and travel-related topics account for about 70% of the publishing division's revenues, with language representing 25% and children's publishing 5%.

While its parent company was making its acquisition offer, Berlitz announced that it is initiating a restructuring effort that has the goal of reducing its operating expenses by $20 million for fiscal 2001, and by $12 million annually thereafter. The company hopes to complete the restructuring, which will include the elimination of 90 positions worldwide, by the end of the first quarter. In addition to cutting its workforce, Berlitz plans to close or sell underperforming operations. As part of the restructuring, the book-publishing division is being consolidated with product development and the Berlitz Kids operations, which will now all be overseen by Adler. "This should strengthen our publishing program," Adler told PW.
--Jim Milliot

Trilogy Extends Offer Deadline for ChaptersThe day before its tender offer for a 50.1% stake in Chapters was set to expire last week, Trilogy extended its deadline by another three weeks to January 24, 2001. Trilogy explained that the extension was needed to wait for the removal of Chapters' poison pill plan, which prevents the completion of the offer. Chapters claimed the extension proves Trilogy failed to convince shareholders to sell their shares. Trilogy, run by Gerald Schwartz and his wife, Indigo chief executive Heather Reisman, launched a hostile takeover attempt for Chapters last month (News, Dec. 4, 2000).

"Clearly, there is little enthusiasm from Chapters' shareholders for Trilogy's bid," said Harry Yanowitz, president of Chapters Inc. Yanowitz added that shareholders realize, given Chapters's recent sales announcements, that taking Trilogy's C$13 offer per share would not be a financially sound move.

On New Year's Day, Chapters said that it had had record retail sales for the month of December and strong sales for its fiscal third quarter, ending December 30, 2000. Chapters's retail sales in December 2000 increased by 5.8%, to C$126.2 million ($84 million), while December superstore sales increased 13%, to C$77.3 million ($51.5 million). According to Chapters, its third quarter was the strongest in the company's history, with sales increasing 4.0%, to C$217.4 million ($145 million). Sales from Chapters' superstores increased 11.7%, to C$139.9 million ($93 million). Full results will be available later this month.

"It is increasingly clear that Trilogy's bid fails to reflect the true value of Chapters," said Larry Stevenson, Chapters' CEO. "It appears that Trilogy's principals hoped our results would not have been available to shareholders prior to the expiration of their bid on January 3, so they could undervalue Chapters, which would be unfair to our shareholders," Stevenson added.

Last week, Chapters' CFO, Ian Young, said that the company expected revenues of C$770 million ($513 million) and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of C$60.8 million ($40.5 million) in the next fiscal year, ending March 2002. "Clearly, this demonstrates how inadequate Trilogy's partial bid is," Young said. Meanwhile, Trilogy continues to acquire Chapters stock. Additional purchases last week brought Trilogy's share count to 1,215,500, about 11% of Chapters.
--Leah Eichler

Executives Exit MeulenhoffAmsterdam's Meulenhoff & Co., the largest constellation of Dutch trade imprints by far, has been subjected to a purge by its parent company, PCM, leading to the early retirement of one of the Netherlands' best known publishers, Laurens van Krevelen. Krevelen had long managed the group's core imprint, Meulenhoff, going on from there to sit on the management board of the parent company with responsibility for trade operations throughout the group. That included flagship house J.M. Meulenhoff for upscale translations; the country's leading commercial fiction imprint, De B kerij; the Unieb k constellation of trade logos; eclectic Prometheus/Bert Bakker; and a more recent acquisition, Utrecht-based Het Spectrum, strong both in Anglo-American commercial fiction and new media reference.

While the full story is still coming out, it is known that PCM, which until now was admired for respecting the independent operations of the profitable book group, suddenly decided to dissolve the latter's autonomous structure, placing its publishers directly under PCM management. Elmer Schouten, a member of the trade group management responsible for administration, resisted the palace coup and was dismissed; Krevelen was asked to stay on to help in the reorganization between now and his announced retirement in May, but was unwilling to do so. The sole remaining group manager is Mai Spijkers, formerly publisher of the Prometheus/Bakker logos for fiction.
--Herbert R. Lottman

BCA Buys Smithmark AssetsThe final piece of the bankrupt U.S. Media Holdings book operations was sold late last month when Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Book Club of America acquired the assets of Smithmark Publishers. The Smithmark inventory, which consisted of approximately two million promotional and gift books, has been moved to BCA's warehouse, and the BCA sales staff has begun marketing the books. Albert Haug, president of BCA, called the Smithmark titles "a perfect complement to our vast product mix."

According to Haug, BCA had a "banner" 2000, and he is expecting another strong year in 2001. "There is lots of product available," Haug observed.

U.S. Media filed for bankruptcy in April and its Stewart, Tabori & Chang and Golden Turtle divisions were acquired by Abrams last summer (News, Aug. 7, 2000).