Five years ago, Chronicle Books editor-in-chief Nion McEvoy startled the West Coast publishing world when he formed the McEvoy Group and bought the publisher that he also ran. Now he's back in the acquisition game, as the McEvoy Group announced late last week that it was acquiring becker&mayer!, a Bellevue, Wash.-based book packager.

The private b&m has been behind titles like Bulfinch's The Sinatra Treasures and The Nascar Vault (which it produced for Books-A-Million's publishing program), and has also done books for Chronicle, including Lennon Legend. Becker&mayer! also puts together the popular SmartLab Toys series, and McEvoy said he hopes the company's reach in toy stores will extend Chronicle's distribution; in turn, McEvoy is expecting that Chronicle's distribution arm (it sells lists such as Princeton Architectural Press) will help b&m in places like the gift market. Custom-publishing, in which b&m has a strong presence, was also cited by McEvoy as a reason for the sale.

Many of b&m's clients compete with Chronicle, and Chronicle employs many packagers outside of b&m, and McEvoy said both would continue. Asked about whether Chronicle would have first-look on b&m projects, McEvoy said, "We'll let that evolve as we evolve."