Down East Books, a division of Down East Enterprise of Rockport, Maine, has acquired the publishing assets of Countrysport Press. Originally founded in Traverse City, Mich., in 1988, Countrysport was most recently located in Selma, Ala. No Countrysport staff will make the move to Maine. Down East will fold its own outdoors imprint, Silver Quill, into Countryside, which has a backlist of 30 titles in the fly-fishing, wing-shooting and gun-and-dog areas.
The acquisition is the latest move by Down East Books head Neale Sweet to give the publisher more national exposure. Sweet, former president of Macmillan's reference book division, recently hired an in-house account manager to call on the national accounts. To date, Down East has focused its sales efforts along the East Coast, with an emphasis on northern New England. "Some of our titles, especially in the children's area, could do well across the country," Sweet said. In addition to its outdoors and children's line, Down East publishes regional, craft, cooking and art books. The company had been publishing between 24 and 30 titles annually, but will probably do at least 30 with the Countrysport purchase, Sweet said. It has an active backlist of approximately 180 titles and handles its own distribution through a network of commission reps.
Although the majority of its books are released in trade paperback, Down East has been publishing more hardcovers in the last few years and has a hit on its hands with Gardens Maine Style, a $35 coffee-table book with 3,000 copies in print after only a few weeks on sale. Another strong seller has been Moving to Maine, a trade paperback published in October that has sold 6,000 copies. Down East supplements its sales through bookstores with a direct mail program that utilizes the four outdoor magazines owned by its parent company.
Down East has a total of 76 employees, with 15 dedicated to the book division. Sweet said sales are up about 15% over 2000, and he is looking for growth to continue at that rate or better for the remainder of the year.