Since it changed its name three years ago from Rockport Publishing to Quayside Publishing Group, the American subsidiary of the London-based Quarto Group has quadrupled in size. In 2004, Quayside added Creative Publishing international and last summer it bought Motorbooks International (MBI), along with its MBI Distribution business. The two Twin Cities acquisitions have given Quayside, which is headquartered in suburban Boston, the leverage it needs to move closer to the top tier of U.S. publishing while continuing to focus on illustrated books on lifestyle and hobbies.
With total sales through the first nine months of 2007 of $132 million, Quarto founder Laurence Orbach said he expects to finish the year ahead of 2006, when revenue was $174 million. He projected that in 2008, total company revenue will rise to approximately $220 million, with about $100 million generated by Quarto's American holdings, primarily Quayside, but also Walter Foster Publishing, which Quayside distributes, and the remainder house Book Sales.
Late last month Quayside took the first steps toward reorganizing the expanded company into a mini—Perseus Books Group consisting of a constellation of nine autonomous imprints in two states, including four from MBI (Motorbooks, Voyageur Press, Zenith Press and Crestline), and a client distribution company. Quayside also started moving MBI and CPi into shared offices in Minneapolis.
At the same time, the company began paving the way for integrating its sales forces out of the Minneapolis office with the hiring of Kevin Hamric as v-p of sales and marketing. Hamric was formerly director of book sales at Taunton Press. According to Quayside president and CEO Ken Fund, the sales changes won't be felt until the fall list. “The one thing we're doing in the short term,” he said, “is where a sales force has experience, we're taking advantage of that.” Still, with the potential of well over 800 titles in reps' bags this year, Fund is considering various options, including breaking down the company's sales force by market rather than imprint.
About 60% of Quayside's sales come from outside of the traditional book trade, and that percentage could increase in the future. “We're probably going to focus on categories and types of books that have a core retail outlet other than the book trade,” said Orbach. Quayside is well established at Michael's, Home Depot and Tractor Supply, and has added such new accounts as Anthropologie and Crate & Barrel.
To take advantage of its strength in the specialty market, Fund plans to expand MBI Distribution, which has 30 clients, and is looking for publishers in compatible genres to Quayside. “We're not going to be NBN's or IPG's competitors; we're not going to be generalists,” he said.
Quayside intends to grow its publishing program internally as well. For the 2009 calendar season, it will extend the calendar program begun by MBI across its Fair Winds, Quiver and Quarry imprints and will publish 31 titles. It will also add a new, as yet unnamed, imprint that will be an offshoot of Voyageur sometime this year. It will be run by Josh Leventhal, son of Black Dog & Leventhal president J.P. Leventhal.
In June the company will begin testing a new category, history. Its Fair Winds imprint, which is best known for health titles, will release three books, starting with Thomas J. Craughwell's How the Barbarian Invasions Shaped the Modern World. The goal is to spin these books off into a separate history imprint.
To augment its internal growth, Orbach will continue to look for niche, nonfiction publishers. “I don't feel comfortable in the fiction world,” he said. In terms of worldwide acquisitions, Orbach said he is interested only in English-language publishers. “That's partly my own skill set,” he adds. “I can't rely only on printouts. I need to touch and feel and sniff.”
Nor is Orbach in any hurry to acquire a company connected with new media or to experiment with new media at any of his other holdings. “We made the mistake in the '90s of jumping into CD-ROMs and earmarked $2 million,” he said. “It would have been a lot more fun tearing up $100 bills in the rain.”
|Creative Publishing international 49 books||photographic how-tos on home improvement, home decorating, crafting and hunting|
|Crestline||proprietary and bargain books|
|Fair Winds Press 21 books||fitness, beauty and health|
|Quarry Books 29 books||artisan crafts, pet care and hobbies|
|Quiver Books 7 books||books, kits and card decks on sexuality and intimacy|
|Motorbooks 90 books||automobiles, motorcycles and pickup trucks|
|Rockport Publishers 42 books||illustrated books on graphic design, architecture and industrial design|
|Voyageur Press 75 books||nature, gardening, regional travel, Americana and country life|
|Zenith Press 40 books||military history|
|2001||Launches Fair Winds imprint|
|2003||Spins off Quarry Books imprint|
|2004||Acquires Creative Publishing international (CPi)|
|2006||Fair Winds creates a new imprint, Quiver|
|2007||Buys Motorbooks international in August|