German Publisher Buys Berkeley’s Ten Speed Press

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday March 04, 2009 - 07:05:00 PM

German media giant Bertlesmann bought legendary Berkeley independent publishing house Ten Speed Press Monday through its New York-based publishing unit Random House.  

The one bright light in the sale is news that the company will keep most of its existing operations and staff in Berkeley.  

News of the sale came in a joint announcement by three publishers: Ten Speed founder and president Philip Wood, Random House president and CEO Markus Dohle and Jenny Frost, president of Crown Publishing Group.  

Ten Speed and its label will be operated as part of Crown, a Random House subsidiary.  

The sale includes all four of Ten Speed’s imprints: Ten Speed Press, Tricycle Press, Celestial Arts and Crossing Press.  

Terms of the sale were not included in the announcement.  

Wood, who founded the company in 1971, will assume the title of president emeritus of the company which publishes more than 100 new titles a year and which has an active backlist of more than 1,000 titles, according to the announcement.  

Among the firm’s biggest sellers are What Color Is Your Parachute, a job-hunting manual with sales of more than 10 million copies, and the 2 million-seller The Moosewood Cookbook.  

Distribution of titles will be taken over by Random House effective May 1.  

Lisa Regul, Ten Speed’s publicity manager, said Random House is keeping most of the publishing operations in Berkeley, with the exception of the warehouse, which will be consolidated with the existing Random House facility in Maryland.  

She said she didn’t know how many employees might be affected.  

“But they’re keeping the office here open,” she said, including editorial, production, design, marketing and her own publicity staff.  

In the Random House press release, Dohle hailed the acquisition as “a real opportunity for us to further grow our business with a terrific group of imprints and a great publishing team.”  

In the same announcement, Wood said he was “confident Ten Speed Press, the company I founded and have owned for almost four decades, will thrive under Random House, whose highly professional people are committed to, and fully understand, publishing.”  

The company’s headquarters is at 999 Harrison St. in West Berkeley.