As the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Discovery Show opened in New Orleans today, North Carolina-based Carolina Wren Press announced it was acquiring the trademarks and backlist of another press based in its home state: John F. Blair.

The combined company will function as a non-profit publisher and will be renamed Blair. It will be based out of Durham and distribution will be through Consortium. The merger will be effective January 1.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to combine our existing literary fiction and poetry with theirs,” Lynn York, publisher of Carolina Wren Press, said. The acquisition brings more than 140 titles from John F. Blair’s list to the combined company.

Carolina Wren Press, founded in 1974, administers the Lee Smith Novel Prize and the Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman. It typically publishes two or three books a year. John F. Blair, based in Winston-Salem, was founded in 1954. It has had a highly variable publishing schedule, usually producing six to eight titles a year. “In knowing that they were going to have a period of transition, they did not put out a fall list this year,” York said.

York said part of the appeal of purchasing John F. Blair was the opportunity to publish nonfiction, which generates a steady income stream. Several titles have had consistent sales for John F. Blair, including more than a dozen volumes of slave narratives and autobiographies of black leaders. “They also have two books on waterfalls that are perennial bestsellers,” York noted.

Forthcoming, Blair has Beaut by Donald Morrill scheduled for May 2018; the short story collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants by May-lee Chai, in fall 2018, and a book of essays by Hal Crowther. “We intend to rebuild the list from there,” York said.

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