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Perseus Book Group

Perseus Book Group was founded in 1996 by venture capitalist Frank Pearl. It is an independent company that represents independent publishers. Imprints include Avalon Travel, Basic Books, Basic Civitas, Da Capo, Lifelong Books, Running Press, Seal Press, Vanguard Press and Westview Press. Perseus also partners with PublicAffairs, Nation Books, with Weinstein Books and The Daily Beast, and handles distribution for 300 publishers. In 2005, Perseus acquired “Client Distribution Services” to strengthen distribution.

With Constellation, Perseus offers a complete set of digital services for independent publishers aiming at enabling and supporting digital publishing, distribution and monitoring of digital sales and marketing.

Analysis & Key Developments

Financial

2014 was a complex and challenging year, with announcements made in June for a three-way transaction with book publishing activities sold Hachette Book Group and the service and distribution division Constellation going to Ingram. However, the transaction was called off in August after being unable to reach an agreement on “everything necessary to close the transaction,” according to Perseus CEO David Steinberger. In November, CEO David Steinberger cited material growth for the year as “a significant accomplishment in a mature industry.”

The private investment firm Centre Lane Partners became a new investor in Perseus in February 2015.

In 2013, Perseus Books Group enjoyed “strong” financial performance for the fiscal year ending June 30, with results that “surpassed our budgeted goals,” as CEO David Steinberger wrote in a letter to Perseus’s 675 employees. Steinberger highlighted “growth and critical acclaim” at Basic Books with Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson, PublicAffairs had a bestseller with The Great Deformation, and Avalon led print and digital sales with travel imprints Rick Steves and Moon. Perseus’s distribution business also closed with very strong results.

Internal organization

In May 2014, Perseus announced Perseus Academic, a new client services division dedicated to university presses and scholarly publishers. Perseus Academic is an affiliate of Perseus Distribution and will be headed by Sabrina McCarthy, president of Perseus distribution client services. Clients include Princeton University Press, University of California Press, Columbia University Press and other continuing Perseus Distribution clients.

With the departure of Joe Mangan of Perseus’s executive team to Hachette Book Group, Charles Gallagher, chief financial officer, was promoted to COO. New reporting relationships were introduced.

A major achievement was the incorporation of Legato Publisher Services, part of Publishers Group West division at Perseus, which will begin selling client titles soon under the leadership of Mark Suchomel.

International

Faber and Faber, Perseus’ and Constellation’s partner in the UK, announced it would launch a marketing and sales division in the US with Perseus Book Group in 2016.

Digital

Perseus Books Group reached a deal with the e-book subscription service Oyster to launch a pilot program offering 100 Perseus titles through the Oyster subscription catalogue. This is Perseus’s first subscription e-book deal and includes the possibility of adding Perseus’s Distribution clients. Perseus Books Group CEO David Steinberger described the new deal as a “pilot” program featuring 100 titles from Perseus imprints. Launched in September 2013, Oyster is a subscription model e-book reading service that gives readers unlimited access to more than 100,000 titles for $8.99 a month. In May 2014, the Perseus Book Group is expanding its agreement with Oyster, making additional 4,000 titles available to subscribers.

Perseus also formed a recent partnership with Scribd for e-book subscriptions.

Perseus’s Constellation digital platform works with 400 publishers and offers 30,000 active titles.

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