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Perseus Folds Two Imprints, Sells Another

by Jim Milliot, PW Daily -- Publishers Weekly, 5/10/2007

As part of its integration of the Avalon Publishing Group, the Perseus Books Group has formed six publishing divisions, an action that will result in the elimination of at least 12 positions and the phasing out of the Carroll & Graf and Thunder's Mouth imprints. As many as 33 other employees could lose their jobs if they are not willing to relocate or take on new roles. In addition, Perseus will sell its Counterpoint Press imprint to Charlie Winton (see related story). William Strachan, editor-in-chief of Thunder's Mouth and Carroll & Graf, and C&G senior editor Don Weise are among the editors being let go.

The new Perseus will be built around the Avalon Travel, Basic Books, Da Capo, Public Affairs, Running Press and Vanguard imprints. Avalon Travel will remain in California under the direction of Bill Newlin, who will also oversee the Rick Steves, Moon Handbooks and Seal Press units. Basic Books will be run by John Sherer, who has been promoted to publisher. In addition to overseeing the existing Basic lines, Sherer will be responsible for coordinating the Nation Books program with the Nation Institute. Da Capo will absorb Avalon's Marlowe & Company imprint, with its titles becoming part of the Da Capo Lifelong series. Several Marlowe editors, including Matthew Lore, will remain with the company. "We believe Marlowe has a very strong presence in the market and it's something we want to preserve," said Perseus president David Steinberger. The Public Affairs, Running Press and Vanguard units are unchanged by the restructuring.

Steinberger said the Carroll & Graf and Thunder's Mouth imprints will publish their fall lists before their backlist titles are assigned to other Perseus imprints. Will Balliett, executive editor of the two imprints, has been named an executive editor at Da Capo and will oversee the publication of the fall titles and help place backlist books within Perseus. Steinberger said the decision to close the two imprints was made because there is overlap between their titles and other Perseus imprints. "Each of our imprints needs to have a distinct identity, and we didn't feel that was the case with Carroll & Graf and Thunder's Mouth," he said.

Avalon's New York office will be closed sometime this summer and employees will be moved to Perseus's headquarters on Park Avenue. Michelle Martin, who has overseen the New York division, is staying on for the transition, but will leave by the end of the summer. All Avalon corporate functions will be handled from New York. Steinberger said Perseus will honor all of its publishing commitments and plans to publish all books it has under contract. If some authors want their rights back, "that is a conversation we could have," Steinberger said. "This has been very challenging," said Steinberger about the consolidation, "but we are trying to establish a company that can succeed in the future."

To see David Steinberger's internal letter to staff about the changes at Perseus, click here.

This article originally appeared in the May 10, 2007 issue of PW Daily. For more information about PW Daily, including a sample and subscription information, click here »


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