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Perseus Sells Counterpoint, Shuts Two Avalon Imprints

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MAIN NEWS HEADLINES
May 10 – May 17, 2007 Edition

Perseus Sells
Counterpoint, Shuts
Two Avalon Imprints

NEW YORK, NY/5/10/2007–Perseus Books Group has realigned nearly all of its imprints, sold its Counterpoint unit to the newly-formed Winton, Shoemaker & Co. LLC, and is shutting down two major imprints of Avalon Publishing Group, the company that Perseus acquired in January. Avalon’s Carroll & Graf and Thunders Mouth Press will close to eliminate overlap in imprints between Perseus and Avalon.

Perseus’s new structure is the result of a kind of “who’s on first” scenario. Charlie Winton first sold Avalon to Perseus for $32 million in January then formed the new Winton, Shoemaker with partner Jack Shoemaker. Avalon’s Shoemaker & Hord imprint wasn’t part of its sale and now belongs to Winton Shoemaker. Winton will be chairman and CEO of what will be called Counterpoint LLC. Partner Jack Shoemaker will serve as vice president of Counterpoint, the imprint he originally co-founded. All this comes after Perseus acquired PGW, the distribution arm of bankrupt AMS, which did—and now presumably still does—distribute both Avalon and Perseus imprints.

Twenty-four jobs have been eliminated at Perseus as a result of the changes, and another 21 employees must either relocate or assume new positions to save their jobs. Thunder’s Mouth editor-in-chief William Strachan, and Carroll & Graf’s senior editor Don Weise, have been let go. Counterpoint Executive Editor Amy Scheibe will also be leaving. Michele Martin, Senior Vice President, Publishing Director of Avalon New York, will also leave.

Perseus has taken additional space at 387 Park Avenue South so that it can move out of Avalon’s New York office and bring many of its people together under one roof. Some Avalon operations will remain in San Francisco. All publishing programs will be supported by Perseus Publishing Services, including all production, manufacturing, rights, finance, human resources and IT activities formerly handled by Avalon New York and corporate offices. The transition of responsibilities will begin over the next few weeks and will be largely completed this summer.

Sale of Counterpoint to Winton Shoemaker will be consummated by the end of June. Counterpoint’s 10-person staff will be located in Berkley, California.

Both backlist books and future books at Carroll & Graf and Thunders Mouth will find a home in the appropriate part of the Perseus Books Group, said Steinberger. None of these changes will affect the publication of the Perseus or Avalon Fall lists, which will be published and sold as planned. For the fall list, Avalon titles will be sold by PGW. For the next list, Avalon Travel and Seal Press will be sold by PGW and the remaining imprints will be sold by Perseus. Perseus will honor all contractual obligations to authors signed up in the past by all Avalon and Perseus imprints.

In a letter to staff members May 10, Perseus CEO David Steinberger outlined the new structure of the combined company. Perseus is now organized around six publishing businesses, each with a clear area of focus and distinct identity:

Avalon Travel will be based in the Bay Area under the leadership of Publisher Bill Newlin. This includes the successful Rick Steves line and the rapidly growing Moon Handbooks program. Perseus will be investing in this area to continue to drive growth. Also reporting to Bill and based in the same office will be Seal Press, which will continue women’s issues publishing under the direction of Publisher Krista Lyons-Gould. At Basic Books, John Sherer, Associate Publisher, is being promoted to Publisher, effective immediately. Basic Books will continue to publish nonfiction in the categories of history, science, politics, psychology and religion. Also reporting to John will be Basic Civitas in New York and Westview Press in Boulder. Perseus plans to invest further in Westview Press, which, under the direction of Associate Publisher Cathleen Tetro, is a college textbook publisher. John will also be the executive responsible for Nation Books, Avalon’s joint venture partnership with The Nation Institute and will be working closely with the Institute’s President, Hamilton Fish. Da Capo Press will continue to be based in Cambridge, Massachusetts under the leadership of Publisher John Radziewicz, with editors in Cambridge, New York, Philadelphia, and Emeryville, California. In addition to Da Capo’s eclectic popular nonfiction, John will oversee all of the Perseus Book Group’s health and wellness publishing under the Da Capo Lifelong and Marlowe & Company brands. A number of key staff will be joining John’s team from Avalon. These include Matthew Lore and Will Balliett, joining Da Capo as Executive Editors. Public Affairs, based in New York under the continued leadership of Publisher Susan Weinberg and with the ongoing support and involvement of Founder and Editor-at-Large Peter Osnos, will continue to focus on current events and politics. Running Press, based in Philadelphia under the continued leadership of Publisher Jon Anderson, in the areas of illustrated and gift book publishing. Vanguard Press, based in New York under the continued leadership of Publisher Roger Cooper, is a partnership between author and publisher.

More changes have been rumored but no announcements have been made.