Craft book publisher Leisure Arts has signed on with Midpoint Trade Books as part of its effort to expand its presence among booksellers. The Midpoint deal, in which Midpoint will handle sales while Leisure Arts will handle marketing and fulfillment, is the last step in the separation of Leisure Arts from its former sister imprints at Time Warner—Oxmoor House and Sunset Books—since Leisure was acquired by Liberty Media in early 2007.

Throughout its history, Leisure Arts has focused its sales operation on crafts stores, and the company will continue to distribute to that channel where it also handles distribution for about 200 publishers. Pam Stebbins, v-p of sales and marketing for Leisure Arts, said she expects Midpoint to offer between 25 and 30 Leisure Arts frontlist titles and about 30 backlist titles to the book trade in 2009. The focus of Leisure Arts' trade efforts will be licensed products with such well-known authors as Debbie Macomber and Mary Engelbreit. Leisure Arts publishes a series of Macomber knitting books—Knitting Along with Debbie Macomber—that complement her Harlequin novels, and seven titles are signed in the line. Its first book with Engelbreit, tentatively titled Sewing with Mary Engelbreit, is set for May 2009.

In addition to its licensed products, Stebbins believes Leisure Art's “teaching titles,” such as encyclopedias and how-to books, will find a good reception from booksellers. “Even though trends change, people need to start with the fundamentals,” Stebbins said. The company's encyclopedias include works on crocheting, knitting and scrapbooking; most are about 240 pages and sell for $24.95. Leisure Arts has also recently acquired the e-commerce scrapbooking company Two Peas in a Bucket. Stebbins said Leisure Arts will explore ways to use the company's popular brand in the scrapbooking world in both its publishing and promotional programs. “Two Peas gives us a great way to learn how to build online communities,” Stebbins noted.

According to Stebbins, Leisure Arts is developing trade and consumer marketing plans to support its push into the bookselling market. “We're very excited about this,” Stebbins said.