Leaver and Smith’s Welbeck Acquires Carlton; Books International Acquires Marston

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In two moves announced within days of each other, new consolidation can be seen in both nonfiction and in distribution and manufacturing services in publishing.

From the site of Carlton Books, acquired by the newly created Welbeck venture led by Marcus Leaver and Mark Smith

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Leaver: ‘An Excellent Springboard’
Former Quarto CEO Marcus Leaver and Mark Smith have joined forces in creating Welbeck Publishing, with Carlton Books becoming the first in an anticipated series of acquisitions, announced today (April 1).

The focus of Welbeck is to be illustrated non-fiction and children’s books for the co-edition market as well as commercial fiction and non-fiction.

In a prepared statement, Leaver—who is also the former president of Sterling Publishing, is quoted, saying, “I look forward to working with Mark to build a publishing business where we can focus solely on making and selling books. We have long-term funding that will enable us to build the Group patiently, working with our extensive network of partners, authors, illustrators and photographers around the world.

“Carlton is an excellent springboard for us, and we are pleased Jonathan [Goodman] is staying with the company in a new guise.

“We have long-term funding that will enable us to build the Group patiently, working with our extensive network of partners, authors, illustrators and photographers around the world.

“Carlton is an excellent springboard for us, and we’re pleased Jonathan is staying with the company in a new guise.”

For his part, Smith—co-founder and former CEO of Quercus Books and founder and former CEO of Bonnier Zaffre—is quoted, saying, “Marcus and I have known each other for a long time and have a unified view on the type of modern publishing business we want to build, playing to our respective strengths to create a broad-based trade publishing business headquartered in the UK but with a global outlook.”

At The Bookseller in his report today, Mark Chandler writes, “Figures for Carlton published last October showed turnover declined by 26 percent from £14.6 million [US$19.1 million] to £10.8 million (US$14.1 million) for the year ended 31st December 2017. The fall was partly blamed on the end of the coloring book boom and transitions.”


Books International Acquires Marston and Orca Book Services

A graphic from the International Books site as the company announces acquiring Marston and Orca

US-based Books International, which provides manufacturing, digital delivery, and distribution services for Taylor & Francis, Switzerland’s Peter Lang, Casemate, the World Bank and other entities, has announced the acquisition of the UK distributors Marston and Orca.

In a prepared statement, Vartan Ajamian, CEO of Dulles-based Books International, is quoted, saying, “The acquisition of Marston Book Services extends the capabilities of all three organizations and creates a manufacturing and distribution powerhouse with truly global reach.

“Our combined resources create new opportunities for the existing clients of all three organizations and we look forward to introducing new capabilities on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Speaking for Marston, John Holloran—who has resigned his directorship but will advise during the transition—says, “As third-party distribution services have evolved, robust book manufacturing capabilities and global reach have become essential features of the competitive landscape.

“Publishers have refocused their operations on content development and outsourced non-core activities to specialist firms such as Books International and Marston and Orca Book Services.”

In its media messaging, International Books describes Marston Book Services and Orca Book Services as being “among among the publishing industry’s leading distributors, providing a comprehensive and impressively high-quality range of fulfilment and print services. The two organizations handle a huge cross-section of books, journals and electronic products from publishers throughout the world, straddling the trade, academic, STM, arts, religion, educational and professional sectors.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on mergers and acquisitions is here and more from our Industry Notes series is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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