It may take a village to raise a child, but it's taken 630 employees scattered across the country to build the Perseus Books Group into what is arguably the most important independent publishing company in the nation, a feat that has made the decade-old company PW's Publisher of the Year.
While Perseus has its roots in the mid-1990s, when millionaire investor Frank Pearl set out to establish an independent publisher that would focus on the publication of serious nonfiction, it's been in the last 18 months that the company, through a series of high-profile acquisitions, has solidified its place among the industry's elite. By taking on the contracts of 124 publishers formerly distributed by the bankrupt PGW, Perseus became the country's largest independent distributor, while its purchase of the Avalon Publishing Group broadened its presence among independent presses. The two major additions did not occur without some pain, particularly as both the integration of PGW and Avalon into Perseus involved job cuts. And, as happens any time publishers change distributors, there were some complaints about the transition process.
The Avalon and PGW deals followed other recent acquisitions of Consortium and CDS to create not only the largest distributor in the country but one of the largest independent …