February 8 – February 15, 2007 Edition

Melville House


Win Bass Award

WASHINGTON, DC/2/6/07—The Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced today that Dennis Loy Johnson and Valerie Merians, Co-Publishers of Melville House Publishing (based in Hoboken, New Jersey), are the recipients of this year’s Miriam Bass Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing. The award will be presented in New York on March 7, during AAP’s Annual Meeting for Small and Independent Publishers.

The award, given annually, was created in memory of Miriam Bass to honor her many contributions to the book publishing community, and is co-sponsored by AAP, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, and National Book Network (NBN). It carries a $5,000 cash prize, which is fully funded by Rowman & Littlefield and NBN.

A judging committee representing a cross-section of the publishing industry selected Mr. Johnson and Ms. Merians, in recognition of their tireless devotion to their calling and the strategic innovations that have made Melville House, within five years of its founding, one of the industry’s most successful independent publishers. Recent successes include the best-selling Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog released in November 2006, Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, authored by the Center for Constitutional Rights and released last February, What We Do Now, released a mere month after the 2004 Presidential Elections, and the highly publicized Who Killed Daniel Pearl? , released in September 2003.

Self-styled as “Publishing literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry – and liking it,” Melville House has published widely respected literary figures, including Lewis Lapham, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Stephen Dixon, Mark Danner, Renata Adler, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Danny Schechter, Randall Kenan, and Edith Wharton. Melville House was founded in 2002 by Johnson and Merians and made its first big splash with the publication of Poetry after 9/11, which received wide praise and was featured in interviews on NPR, CNN and elsewhere.

On learning they were this year’s award winners, Dennis Loy Johnson said that “The Miriam Bass Award recognizes the fact that even in a business as old as making books, innovation and creativity are not only still possible, but vital. We’re thrilled to be chosen to represent that idea, and we’re particularly honored because five years ago, when we told Miriam Bass that we were thinking of doing something as crazy and difficult as starting a publishing company, she was one of the few who said, ‘good idea!’.”

Jed Lyons, President of Rowman & Littlefield and Chief Executive Officer of National Book Network noted that “Miriam Bass’ philosophy was all about creativity. I have no doubt she would be thrilled Dennis and Valerie have been acknowledged, and in her name, for their excellence in literary art, in a business that continues to expand its creative bounds by the ongoing exploration of creativity both in content, as well as process.”

Paying tribute to this year’s winners, Richard Nash (Soft Skull Press), who won the award last year, called Melville House “the Big Hit Story.” Nash said that “Dennis and Valerie have had more success with Charlie Rose than any indie I can think of, and they’ve only been around for five years!” In an industry where bloggers often turn into authors, Melville House’s Johnson, the former ur-lit-blogger of the web site, made the unique transformation from blogger to publisher. Melville House and its titles have also been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, 60 Minutes, The Atlantic Monthly, Bill Moyers, and The Boston Globe, to name a few.

Nominees for this award may be engaged in any area of book publishing provided their publishing house is independent. The Award Committee judges consider a company’s extraordinary creativity over the past year in any publishing role, including editorial, marketing, sales, finance, or production. This year’s judging committee was composed of representatives from Ingram Book Company, Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble, and Borders Book Group Inc.

When Mr. Johnson and Ms. Merians are presented with the Award on March 7 at the Rosenthal Pavilion of the Kimmel Center, New York University, they will share their journey to becoming publishing’s “Big Hit Story of 2007” with the more than 100 independent publishers attending the AAP Small and Independent Publishers meeting. This year’s SIP Meeting is entitled Taking It to the Next Level” Seven Approaches To Make Your House More Successful,” and sessions will address such topics as branding, niche marketing, lifestyle publishing, special market sales, subrights profitability, Internet connections with readers, and publicity. The full program and registration information can be found on the AAP web site at www.publishers/org/conferences.

The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry. AAP’s more than 300 members include most of the major commercial publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societiessmall and large. AAP members publish hardcover and paperback books in every field, educational materials for the elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and professional markets, scholarly journals, computer software, and electronic products and services. The protection of intellectual property rights in all media, the defense of the freedom to read and the freedom to publish at home and abroad, and the promotion of reading and literacy are among the Association’s highest priorities.