The Perseus Books Group has reached a preliminary agreement to acquire the book publishing division of Combined Publishing. Based in Conshohocken, Pa., Combined specializes in books on military and general history with a particular focus on Civil War and World War II titles. The deal, which does not include Combined's book distribution business, is expected to close by July 15.

Perseus will integrate the Combined list into its Da Capo Press unit. Robert Pigeon, president of Combined, will join Da Capo as a senior editor reporting to John Radziewicz, Da Capo publisher.

Combined has about 250 titles and significantly added to its list in 2000 with the acquisitions of Sarpedon Publishers and Savas Publishing. Perseus CEO Jack McKeown said he expects to publish between 25 and 30 titles annually in the military history line and is considering keeping the Combined name as an imprint. McKeown called history "one of the signature publishing categories of Perseus."

McKeown told PW he is looking at other possible acquisitions. "My mandate is to grow the business," he said.

While acquisitions have played an important role in the growth of Perseus, the publisher's print-on-demand program has also added to revenues. McKeown said he expects to add a third DocuTech machine by the end of the year and to have about 1,200 titles in the POD system.