A story in last week's Washington Business was incorrect in stating that Acropolis Books Ltd. was the city's only trade book publisher.
The comparison between the publishing business here and in New York leads to the well-worn conclusion that Washingtonians are living in a small town.
While the Big Apple is home to the publishing giants that are themselves owned by conglomerates, Washington's trade publishing business--"trade" referring to publishers who generally cater to bookstore proprietors rather than to the "mass market" in supermarkets and drug stores--consists solely of Acropolis Books Ltd., a small company that recently entered into several international agreements to sell books in Canada, Australia and Nigeria.
The nation's capital has other large book publishing concerns, such as National Geographic and Time-Life Books, but Acropolis is the only locally owned publisher to which authors can submit their manuscripts.
The company has existed in relative obscurity since 1960. But through a recent agreement, Acropolis' trade paperback titles soon will be distributed by Warner Communications on the American mass market--in drug stores, supermarkets, "speciality stores" like K mart and at newsstands.
Warner has already begun marketing Acropolis books in the Canadian mass market, and "will be getting into full steam in September," according to Acropolis founder and owner Alphons J. Hackl.
"We are essentially tagging along with Warner's magazine distribution. I didn't approach them, they found us," Hackl said. A Warner's representative "went into a B. Dalton bookstore in New York, saw one of our books and said 'this should have great potential for the specialized market.' "
Acropolis publishes nonfiction "self-help" or "how-to" books. Its current winner is "Color Me Beautiful." The book, by Carole Jackson, offers advice on using color to enhance your appearance and has been on the bestseller list in Washington for 47 weeks.
In Australia, about 100 Acropolis titles are being distributed by Little Hills Press of Sidney. In Nigeria, Fourth Dimension Publishing Co. of Lagos will distribute about 150 titles. One of these will be a textbook for the country's elementary teacher education program.
Hackl says that even though Acropolis publishes only about 25 titles each year, its main competition is the New York publishing houses, many of which keep tabs on the local book and author scene through Washington offices.
The New York publishers "have so much more in resources than we do because they're owned by large industrial concerns and conglomerates, and the established authors go for their money," Hackl said. "We give authors better service, and also when we publish a book it's not one among 500 or 800, it's one among 25. We can give them more attention.
"If 'Color Me Beautiful' had been done by a New York publisher, it would have been lost because it was done by a new author," he said. "New York publishers don't put much push behind a book like that."
Hackl also notes that Acropolis' books are not written exclusively by local authors. Three writers currently working with the company are from California, he said.
Acropolis Books is an outgrowth of Colortone Press, which Hackl founded in 1946 and which now counts among its clients a number of trade associations and industrial firms.