When Tom Doherty was casting about for a way to start a business after spending four years as a sales manager for a sports publisher and another nine years for two major New York houses, he decided to try his hand at distribution. That was two and a half years ago, and so far he has no regrets about setting up Cardinal Publishers Group (CPG) in Indianapolis.

"Some people told me I was crazy getting into distribution," Doherty told PW in an interview from his car on a drive back from Borders to his office. "Year-to-date we're up over 300%, but we began 2001 with 12 titles and now we have 67." Currently Doherty represents seven publishers, including newly added cookbook publisher Cucina Casalinga, although CPG's strength continues to be sports.

"We're trying to do any kind of nonfiction trade. We prefer to find people who have a half dozen books already and plan to do four more books a year. Our publishers have a specific niche and are particularly good at one thing—like Wish Publishing, which does women in sports and health. When they do a book on basketball, they get Anne Donovan, head coach of the WNBA Charlotte Sting." Another CPG client, Reedswain, has just about cornered the market on soccer titles. "They have 73 books on just soccer," said Doherty. Reedswain "tried to get into bookstores, but it was such a hassle and [the publisher] was making money without them." Although Reedswain might sell only 3,000 copies of a title, it averages a 98% sell-through.

Doherty recently updated his Web site, www.cardinalpub.com, and he offers a separate consulting service for nonclients wanting to know more about sales and distribution.