RLPG Buys M. Evans

The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group has acquired the assets of M. Evans & Company. Evans, which has a backlist of about 250 titles, will become a division of RLPG, alongside RLPG's Taylor Trade unit. Although RLPG will continue to release books under the Evans imprint, it will close its New York office. Evans's editorial operations will be directed by Rick Rinehart, while Jenn Linck will oversee marketing. Distribution will continue through National Book Network, an affiliated company of RLPG.

Bookspan Bolts into Publishing

Lying with Strangers by thriller author James Grippando will be published in May 2006 exclusively by Bookspan and distributed solely to the company's three biggest clubs as a Main Selection. Rights to a retail edition of Lying will be sold at a later date. And, though Bookspan has no other original deals worked out, it has acquired exclusive U.S. rights to a number of British titles it will offer to club members.

Kaplan Unites Publishing Biz

Kaplan Inc. is combining its trade/business publishing division, which it operates under the Dearborn imprint, with its test prep publishing unit to form Kaplan Publishing. The move means Kaplan will end its joint venture with Simon & Schuster in the test prep field, although S&S will continue to provide back-office and fulfillment services.

Roy Lipner will head Kaplan Publishing, which will publish more than 170 titles annually. Lipner plans to limit new releases under the Dearborn imprint to mostly professional titles, while books sold into the trade will carry the Kaplan Publishing brand.

Bookstore Sales Up in August

Bookstore sales rose 1.9% in August, to $2.08 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The gain, only the third in the year, was well below the 7.6% increase posted by the entire retail segment. Despite the August gain, bookstore sales for the first eight months of 2005 were down 2.2%, to $10.33 billion.

Chapter 11 Downsizes

The Georgia regional bookstore chain Chapter 11 has filed for bankruptcy and will close six of its 13 stores as part of a reorganization. The company will consolidate its business around its Atlanta stores and its Web and corporate sales operations, said owner Perry Tanner, who acquired the chain three years ago.

Virgin Moves To Holtzbrinck

As part of a move to expand its presence in North America, Virgin Books is moving its distribution from CDS to Holtzbrinck and will begin distributing its titles simultaneously in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada. The company has also brought in former Rodale Trade publisher Amy Rhodes to coordinate its expansion plans, at least for the short term. Beginning in January, Holtzbrinck will distribute about 30 to 35 Virgin titles per season, along with a backlist of about 100 bestsellers.

LaFarge Joins Bloomsbury

After four years at Crown as a senior editor, and a stint in new media at the now-defunct Contentville, Annik LaFarge has joined Bloomsbury as publishing director. LaFarge, 25-year veteran of the industry, has worked in both marketing and editorial. In her new role at Bloomsbury, LaFarge will serve as a liaison between the editorial and marketing/publicity departments; she will also edit four to six titles per year.

Bantam Deal For Buffett

After a tense auction that saw bids from most major houses, the authorized bio of Warren Buffett has gone to Bantam Dell in a deal worth a reported $7 million-plus. To be penned by former Morgan Stanley analyst Alice Schroeder, the tentatively titled Snowball will be, according to Schroeder, "a biography of Warren's ideas." The deal was brokered by agent David Black, and publication is planned for 2008.

Strong Quarter For MHE

Revenue at McGraw-Hill Education rose 10.7%, to $1.1 billion, in the third quarter ended September 30. The gain was led by the school group, where sales increased 18.9%, to $685 million. MHE's social studies and health programs picked up several adoptions and the company did well in Texas. Supplementary materials were soft. The higher education/professional/international group was flat at $457 million.


Wang Dead at 87

Arthur W. Wang, cofounder of Hill & Wang, died October 14 in Wellesley, Mass., of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 87. Along with the late Lawrence Hill, Wang founded H&W in 1956, and in 1959 the house published Night, Elie Weisel's bestselling Holocaust memoir. H&W also specialized in African-American titles, publishing Langston Hughes and others. H&W was sold to FSG in 1971 and Wang retired in 1998.