PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (March, 2002) —Running Press, a publisher best known for novelties and impulse buys sold at general merchandise stores and discount warehouses, has been acquired by the Perseus Book Group.
Jack McKeown, chief executive of Perseus, said the acquisition would increase revenue by more than 50 percent, making it one of the largest independently owned publishers. Perseus was founded five years ago by the financier Frank H. Pearl, whose intent was to invest in serious publishers instead of more profitable blockbusters. As a result, the company developed a reputation for publishing intellectual nonfiction, in areas such as journalism, scholarship and public policy. Industry consultants estimate that Perseus will be smaller than the privately owned Workman Publishing but large than Disney’s Hyperion Books division. There are very few significant freestanding publishers of consumer books not owned by conglomerates.
Running Press has capitalized on trends at the opposite end of the market. The company was founded 30 years ago in Philadelphia by two brothers, Lawrence and Stuart Teacher. In recent years, book sales at general merchandise stores, discount warehouses and other retailers outside of bookstores are one of the fastest growing parts of the business and now account for more sales than bookstores. Running Press has taken advantage of the trend, inventing many variations on the standard format of books and selling them in toy stores, supermarkets and elsewhere.
Mr. McKeown of Perseus said Running Press also fitted his company’s goal of avoiding the costs of paying high advances for well-known authors. Running Press customarily thinks up many of its own concepts and ideas and often owns the trademark to its series. Stuart Teacher, who will become a part owner of Perseus, said that the merger would satisfy an ambition to publish books of all kinds as well as providing better financial resources.
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