"We just decided to get married - we haven't discussed any details yet." said Edward Fitzgerald, president of the Book-of-the-Month Club, which announced its merger with Time, Inc., in New York on Tuesday.
But as with any marriage, there are grand expectations, such as protection and security from the other, while not giving up one's own independence: dealing a blow to one's rival; lots of foreign travel.
"We're 50 years old, and we'd like to go through the next 50 years doing as well as we have." Fitzgerald said. "We'll be better off fighting our way through the next 50 years allied with a big company.
"For instance, we have ambitions about our international possibilities. We are nowhere internationally. Our major competitor. Doubleday [parent company of the Liberary Guild] is doing business abroad. I don't like to see them running away with the world. It will take money, but it will also take offices abroad, which Time Inc., has, and people, translating, advertising, marketing."
The Book-of-the-Month Club which sold 8 million books last year earning $5 million after taxed administers five book clubs: Book-of-the-Month which has 1.1 million members: the Cooking and Craft Club with 150,000 members: the Quality Paperback Club with 110.000 members and the Sports Illustrated and Fortune Book Clubs both of which the company has run for Time. Inc., for three years, totaling under 50,000 members.
Fitgerald said the company had been discussing mergers for many years, but had refused offers from non-publishers.
Time, Inc., owns two publishing companies: Time-Life Books, now in Alexandria, and Little, Brown, in Boston.
Donald Wilson vice president of Time, Inc., for corporate public affairs, said that the Club is seen as "a vehicle for selling books," and he "can't see it would have any effect whatsoever" on Time's book companies. No changes in the Club's management are planned, he said.
Fitzgerald said it would he "close to errant nonsense" to say that his company could remain totally independent - "I'm 57 years old. I've worked in the publishing business since I was 16, and the oldest maxim I know is. 'When you sell it, you sell it,' That can be translated into, 'When they buy it, they buy it.'
"We have certain contractural guarantees, and I'll be running the company," he said. He said he had no legal guarantee that the parent company might not try to make the Club accept one of its books, "but if that happened. I'd leave and they'd have to get someone else to do it.
"After all, they brought us because we're a good business. If we continue to be. I imagine they're going to leave us alone and say, 'God bless you.'"