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Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Winton’

Charlie Winton Steps Down as Counterpoint Publisher

Counterpoint and Soft Skull Press CEO and publisher Charlie Winton has decided to step down as publisher. He will continue to serve as CEO and acquire books as executive editor-at-large.

The company has picked Rolph Blythe to serve as publisher, he will start in the new position on May 1st. Blythe has worked as a Hungry Mind Bookstore bookseller, editor at The Hungry Mind Review, and as a marketing manager at Counterpoint Press and Basic Books. Winton had this statement in the release:

Counterpoint/Soft Skull is coming off our best year ever in 2012 with net revenues increasing over 30 percent. We’ve built a fantastic team, and the group of authors we are working with continue to evolve in a very positive direction. The company is well positioned for me to make this transition away from day to day operations … My continuing roles will allow me to remain actively engaged and at the same time provide the company with an energetic new player. Rolph brings a robust blend of experience to the company.

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Denise Oswald Joins Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint as Editorial Director

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Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint has hired Denise Oswald as editorial director of Soft Skull Press and senior editor of Counterpoint. She will replace Richard Nash who left the press in February.

Oswald had worked as a senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, helming the Faber and Faber list for nearly ten years, editing writers like Colin Beavan, Anne Carson, and Courtney Love.

Counterpoint publisher Charlie Winton had this statement: “We are very excited about having Denise take the helm at Soft Skull. She has a distinguished track record and the perfect background for continuing to make Soft Skull one of the most interesting and dynamic voices in independent publishing. We are confident that she will be able to add an important dimension to the Counterpoint list as well.”

Sierra Club Partners with Counterpoint

PW Daily reported yesterday that Sierra Club Books has signed a new co-publishing agreement with Counterpoint LLC, and will produce about eight titles a year starting in the spring. Sierra Club will handle acquisitions and editorial development from its San Francisco office and Counterpoint will handle the making, marketing, selling and fulfillment of the books from the Berkeley office the newly formed company is planning to move into soon. The new deal is similar to the co-publishing arrangement Sierra Club has had for its adult titles with the University of California Press since 2002.

Counterpoint CEO Charlie Winton said the Sierra Club books added a new dimension to the Counterpoint LLC editorial mix. “I am pleased that when we go out in the Spring we’ll have three lists that do very different things but are complementary,” said Winton.

Soft Skull Purchased by Winton, Shoemaker LLC

After last week’s announcement of the massive restructuring of Perseus – leading in part to layoffs, imprint cancellations and the formation of a new venture by Charlie Winton – now comes a new announcement that Winton, Shoemaker & Co., LLC has acquired Soft Skull Press. This is their third acquisition this year. In February of 2007, they acquired Shoemaker & Hoard from the Avalon Publishing Group, and earlier in May they acquired Counterpoint from The Perseus Books Group.

As with the Counterpoint transaction, the Soft Skull transaction is expected to close in June. As announced last week, when the transactions close the company will be renamed Counterpoint, LLC. Soft Skull will remain as an imprint of Counterpoint. Soft Skull’s Publisher Richard Nash will join the company as an Executive Editor and will also maintain the title of Editorial Director of the imprint. Nash will acquire for both the Counterpoint imprint as well as continuing to acquire for the Soft Skull imprint. In the fall 2007 season, titles acquired by Soft Skull will be published under the Soft Skull imprint and will be distributed by PGW. Beginning in winter 2008, all Counterpoint and Soft Skill titles will be distributed by PGW.

Winton says, “Richard is a tremendous addition to our team. He brings with him a number of authors and relationships that will fit within the Counterpoint list and that compliment Jack Shoemaker‘s editorial sensibilities. At the same time, by maintaining the Soft Skull imprint we will be able to extend the range of what we are able to publish.”

Counterpoint Bought by Winton; New Venture Begins

PW Daily reports that Counterpoint Press will no longer be distributed by Perseus – and that instead, it has been bought by former PGW founder and Avalon publisher Charlie Winton as part of his brand-new publishing venture, Winton, Shoemaker & Co. LLC. As a result the venture, the final details which should be sorted out by June, will now be known as Counterpoint LLC. Winton will be chairman and CEO while Jack Shoemaker, the original co-founder and publisher of Counterpoint, will become v-p and editorial director of the new Counterpoint. Amy Scheibe will be departing as executive editor.

Winton said to PW Daily that the idea to acquire Counterpoint was part of the original negotiations to sell Avalon (Winton’s former company) to Perseus, but that the bankruptcy of Publishers Group West “put it on the back burner while we straightened out the world.” Perseus wound up acquiring PGW during the PGW bankruptcy proceedings and represents 120 PGW clients. As for Counterpoint, Winton is shopping for office space in Berkeley for the 10-person Counterpoint staff, though it remains to be seen if any or all will, in fact, move to California. Also worth noting is that the other half of Shoemaker & Hoard, Trish Hoard, only recently moved to Manhattan after many years in Washington – no word yet on whether she will stay put, but emails and phone calls are pending…

Today in AMS: Stalking horses and auctions in sight

A flurry of stories preview tomorrow’s big auction day where Judge Christopher Sontchi will decide who has the better offer for Publishers Group West: Perseus or National Book Network. PW Daily reports, as does Publishers Marketplace, that NBN President Jed Lyons promised in a letter sent to publishers yesterday that if his bid for PGW contracts prevails, he would enter into a lease with the current landlord for the current AMS/PGW warehouse in Indianapolis rather than relocating the stock to the NBN warehouse. NBN will also keep a Bay Area presence and maintain a New York office and perhaps most importantly, keep the PGW name and logo.

Some of the PGW staff members took exception to the use of their names in the NBN letter, concerned that it represented an endorsement of the NBN offer, according to Avalon president and PGW founder Charlie Winton, but Lyons said the letter was meant to show NBN’s commitment to PGW, and not as an endorsement.

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Today in AMS: Tell it to the Judge

It’s a big day in the story of Advanced Marketing Services‘ Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as Judge Christopher Sontchi is set to rule on various motions pertaining to AMS’s future, the competing bids for Publishers Group West by National Book Network and Perseus, and on the most important part of the proceedings: money. Or of course, he may not, if a motion to delay a decision is passed. But to say the industry is waiting on pins and needles for what the judge might decide is, shall we say, a big understatement.

Shelf Awareness has comments from both sides of the PGW bid party. David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus Books Group, said that after “an
extraordinary weekend,” the company has signed up PGW publishers
representing about 85% of PGW revenue, well above the 65% threshold
level set when it made the initial offer a month ago. He noted, too,
that Perseus had changed the offer slightly, “introducing an early exit option” that will be applicable to all publishers that have signed with Perseus regardless of when they signed. “We feel that any further delay in the process would be very unfair to the PGW
publishers and PGW staff who have suffered enough.”

But NBN President Jed Lyons told the online broadsheet that that the
distributor has contracts with more than 70 PGW publishers. “We’re very pleased considering we’ve only being doing this three days. It’s
extraordinary.” He noted that because Perseus is buying Avalon and
because Grove/Atlantic is a strong Perseus supporter, “probably a third of PGW revenues has been off limits for us.” (Speaking of Avalon, Charlie Winton, the company’s president, gets a big write-up in the LA Times as they finally get on the AMS bankruptcy bandwagon.) In addition, Lyons said he had sent PGW publishers a statement from Fortress Investment Group, whose Drawbridge Long Dated Value Advisors of New York is providing financing for the deal.


Radio Free PGW
, as always, has the updates and insight, but today’s nugget comes by way of PGW publisher Vicki Lansky: “I have often found that life’s most important decisions/choices are based on incomplete information (marriage, having a family, believing in god, starting a business, figuring out the right distributor). I’m going to let the court make the best guess it can. Too many unknowns. (My guess is that neither would be perfect.) Having a distributor is better than not having one, that is all I know. I think we’re lucky that 2 companies are willing to slug this out over us. We could have no one interested in bailing PGW (and in effect, us) out. I hope however this works out, it works for you.” And that sentiment sure works for us…

Today in AMS: Major Shareholder Resigns from Board, PMA Plans PGW Help

What’s a stockholder to do when he’s lost a boatload of money, tried to turn a company around from the inside and received little support? Robert Robotti‘s answer, announced this morning, was to resign from Advanced Marketing Services’ board of directors. Robotti, appointed a director last November, stated that he disagreed with the Board’s decision to proceed with the annual meeting of stockholders on January 24, 2007, as previously scheduled, even though AMS is facing more court battles in the wake of its Chapter 11 filing and its litany of problems going back several years.

Meanwhile, PW has more on Avalon‘s sale to Perseus, confirming that the deal was a long time in coming. “Moving distributors is at least a three-year commitment and I’m not sure I wanted to stay through 2010,” said Avalon president Charlie Winton. As discussions with Perseus progressed, Winton became convinced that the company, with its decentralized structure and satellite offices, would be a good fit for Avalon. Radio Free PGW’s perspective is that the selloff won’t make that much of a financial difference to the fortunes of Publishers Group West, but “the death knell for PGW would be if Grove/Atlantic, Berrett-Koehler and perhaps New World cut and run.”

And what of those other PGW clients whose distribution fate hasn’t been decided? PW Daily reports that PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, has put together a plan it hopes will help out with some of the “extremely challenging issues” for PGW clients. According to PMA director Terry Nathan, the association plans to act in three areas: establish a network of printers that will do short runs of books, to get inventory back in the control of the affected publishers; contact financial institutions to provide short-term business interruption loans; and look for other distributors to step in and help with interim distribution and/or cash flow.

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.