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Posts Tagged ‘Carroll & Graf’

Balliett Bolts for Hyperion

Only a few months after the Perseus/Avalon reorganizion closed down Carroll & Graf and Thunder’s Mouth – sending former C&G editor Will Balliett to Da Capo as executive director – he’s now gone and left for Hyperion, where PW Daily reports he will take the reins as editorial director. Will Schwalbe, senior v-p and editor-in-chief of Hyperion, made the announcement today, calling Balliett “one of the most creative and admired figures in publishing.” Schwalbe said Balliett will acquire and edit books for Hyperion and manage the editorial process, beginning August 8.

“Given my own history in publishing, the dynamic and enormously talented company being led by Bob Miller, Ellen Archer and Will Schwalbe just felt like a perfect home for me,” said Balliett. “There’s great passion and chemistry, with a track record to match, and I couldn’t be more excited about what we’re going to be doing together.”

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John Shannon’s Tales of the West Coast Midlist

What elevates some crime writers to exalted status while others fly under the radar? It’s a question Josh Getlin attempts to answer in his profile of John Shannon, an LA-based writer whose novels featuring private investigator Jack Liffey attempt to recount the city’s contemporary feel and landscape. “John’s goal, among other things, has been to write an alternative history of Los Angeles from the standpoint of groups and people who are excluded from the established discourse,” said social historian Mike Davis, who wrote “City of Quartz” and “Planet of Slums.” “This fits uneasily into people’s stereotypes of modern Los Angeles, and it’s what makes him so distinctive.”

But try finding Shannon’s books on shelves. Though he’s currently published by Pegasus, his backlist – in the form of early paperback originals published by Berkley Prime Crime and later, hardcover-only books from Carroll & Graf – are out of print. “It’s been a struggle,” said Shannon, who lives in Topanga Canyon. “If all my novels were in paperback, there would be this critical mass on the shelf. And I think that I’d be comfortable today instead of broke,” he added ruefully, his voice trailing off. “You know, I probably need to win an award or sell a movie. But I’m not stopping my writing. I’ve always had stories to tell.”

(Full disclosure: Getlin interviewed me on background for the piece.)

Publishing Vets Join New Venture

PW Daily reports on a most dizzying case of publishing musical chairs. Skyhorse Publishing, founded in September 2006 by Tony Lyons (formerly of Lyons Press and Globe Pequot Press) has just hired two veterans of the publishing world: Herman Graf, co-founder of the just-closed Carroll & Graf, and Trish Hoard, cofounder and associate publisher of Shoemaker & Hoard, now part of the new venture Winton, Shoemaker & Co. Graf will be an acquiring editor and consultant; Hoard’s new role is as managing editor. And now I believe the music has started up once more…

BREAKING: Massive Reorganization for Perseus

PW Daily serves up the news (plus Perseus CEO David Steinberger‘s memo to colleagues) which includes the following:

  • Perseus Books Group has formed six publishing divisions built around Avalon Travel, Basic Books, Da Capo, Public Affairs, Running Press and Vanguard imprints.
  • 24 positions eliminated, with as many as 21 other employees could lose their jobs if they are not willing to relocate or take on new roles
  • Carroll & Graf and Thunder’s Mouth will cease to exist as imprints after this fall, with William Strachan, editor-in-chief of Thunder’s Mouth and Carroll & Graf, and C&G senior editor Don Weise among the editors being let go.
  • Avalon’s New York office will be closed sometime this summer and employees will be moved to Perseus’s headquarters on Park Avenue.

Will there be more news? There has to be, because the fate of former PGW employees and publishers hasn’t even been addressed yet, and one must believe they will be at some point.

More tellingly, the impending shutdown of C&G and Thunder’s Mouth should call into question whether Perseus has any longterm plans to publish fiction. Will Balliett, former executive editor of both imprints, now moves to Da Capo in a similar position. But that imprint is not known for publishing fiction. Basic Books is absorbing Nation Books (which sometimes does fiction) and Vanguard, already established as a place for formerly bestselling novelists to go for a career refresher, will likely continue what it’s doing, but what of C&G’s extensive mystery fiction publishing program, or the backlist reissues that Thunder’s Mouth does? Steinberger might say that “[e]ach 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,” but without any concrete evidence in place, one really has to wonder.

Today in AMS: Avalon Signs with Perseus

Publishers Lunch reported late yesterday that the Avalon Publishing Group, which includes Carroll & Graf, Shoemaker & Hoard, Seal Press, Thunder’s Mouth Press, Nation Books, Marlowe & Company and Avalon Travel Publishing, has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by the Perseus Books Group. (AP picked up the story this morning.) Terms were not available, but Avalon is said to have been generating about $32 million annually. Charlie Winton, Avalon’s president (and former PGW founder) will stay in place during a “transition period” and then will serve as a consultant to Perseus, including advising on “how to further develop Perseus’ client services business through which Perseus provides sales and distribution services to independent publishers.”

Since Avalon was one of the most high-profile clients of Publishers Group West, this is big news -and it remains to be seen, as Michael Cader pointed out, what this news means for the rest of PGW’s 150-odd publisher clients. Make what you will of Perseus CEO David Steinberger‘s comments in his statement about the new deal: “Charlie and I are already working together on a proposal to AMS, PGW and PGW clients, all of whom are facing a very challenging situation. We have talked to a number of clients and we are in discussions with AMS.” Winton says, “We think a path can be found that would benefit all parties. Because of its two distribution lines – Consortium and Perseus Distribution – Perseus is ideally positioned to lead this initiative.”

For Winton, the sale to Perseus marks the end of a five-year odyssey with AMS that began in 2002 (and included his replacement as PGW’s head by current CEO Rich Freese in 2003.) And as Pat Holt (of Holt Uncensored fame) predicted back when AMS bought PGW, “this marriage between distributors with conflicting philosophies is going to hit some purty stormy patches.” Did it ever – and Winton’s necessary defection may well signal even more defections, whether to Perseus or to different distribution waters. This morning, the anonymous Radio Free PGW blog added its own take on the story with a part history, part obituary of PGW as it once was.