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Tom Hallock: Beacon Press Heading to a New Distributor

Today's post is from Tom Hallock, Associate Publisher of Beacon Press.

Last week, Beacon announced a change in its distribution from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to Random House Publisher Services which will be effective July 1, 2010.

It's a big change and one we’re excited about. The new partnership encompasses all formats and channels. Random House will be selling Beacon books, audios, eBooks and audio downloads to US, Canada (as of 1/1/11), and other English language markets. We will also have the support of Random House in the academic, library, school and special sales areas. We think this new partnership will serve our authors and their books-- and enable us to reach a wide audience through a variety of channels in a variety of formats. We also think this will enable us to focus on building our lists and exploring the new publishing and marketing opportunities of the digital age.

Although we won't start shipping books until July 1, our work with RHPS started in December and it's been exciting to see things take shape. We launched our fall 2010 list, including our first graphic book (an adaptation of Geoff Canada's Fist Stick Knife Gun), at sales conference last week. We've already started working with our new distributor on Book Expo, ALA, and the London Book fair and are especially excited about their support in bringing Eboo Patel (Acts of Faith) to the Freshman Year Experience conference in January 11.

The change also means we’re saying goodbye to two distributors who have served us well over the past decade. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been with us-- and looked out for our interests-- through some tough times, including the recent economic downturn. They helped us launch Michael Patrick MacDonald's All Souls, Meredith Hall's Without a Map and many new titles by Mary Oliver including her first audios. We'll miss having a distributor across the Boston Common, with whom we could talk through the issues of the day over lunch at the Beacon Hill Bistro. We'll also miss working with Beth Ineson and the all the great reps at HMH. We leave with a sense of gratitude to them and to Gary Gentel, Laurie Brown and the HMH management team for all they've done for the press in the past ten years.

We'll also be saying goodbye six months later to our wonderfully independent Canadian distributor, Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Among the things I have loved about working with them is that I can always get their President, Sharon Fitzhenry, on the phone and that I was greeted at the door by their resident cats. (It reminds me of my days at FSG when a monstrously ill-tempered cat named Maizy inhabited the sales and marketing floor. The Fitz cats always treated me well, however.) And I want to give special thanks to Fitz's Michael Davis who educated me about many things Canadian and did yeoman’s work on our list.

We enter this period of change with a sense of excitement and optimism about the future. We think technology is giving us ways to reach new readers and fulfill our mission in new ways. And we feel like we've found the right partner for these times in Random House Publisher Services.