Yale Daily News

W. W. Norton will become the distributor for Yale University Press in January 2025 — marking the end of a decades-long partnership with Lakeside Book Company, formerly known as TriLiteral LLC.

Lakeside was founded in 20o1 as TriLiteral LLC as a partnership with the Yale University Press, as well as the Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology presses. TriLiteral was sold to LSC Communications in 2018, and renamed to Lakeside following its sale to Atlas Holdings in 2020. Although MIT Press announced it would be partnering with Penguin Random House in a statement from 2019, Yale and Harvard University Press will continue their partnership with Lakeside through December 2024. Both presses announced they would be partnering with Norton in a joint October announcement of their deals, per Yale Press’ Chief Operating Officer Kate Brown, who added that the deal was finalized shortly before the press announcement. 

“Yale University Press’s existing warehouse contract is due to expire soon, so it was an opportunity to compare and explore other options,” Woodbridge Hall Chief of Staff Susan Gibbons wrote to the News. “The partnership with Norton, one of the world’s leading independent publishers, provides a unique opportunity for the Press in terms of sales growth and warehouse stability.”

Julia Reidhead ’82, president and chairman of Norton, chaired the Yale University Press Board of Governors from 2012 to 2022.

Through Lakeside, the Press’ distribution has been organized out of a warehouse, jointly owned by Yale, MIT and Harvard universities, in Cumberland, Rhode Island, since 2001.

Lakeside Director of Operations Marguerite Leonard told the News that the distribution center was built in 1998 to serve Harvard, Yale and MIT presses and that the decision for Yale and Harvard presses to cease their operations was not Lakeside’s decision.

“All books from Yale were only available here; if you had to order a book, it would come from this warehouse,” Leonard said. “Whatever LSC Communications has planned for us, that’s what we will do … we’re now their warehouse.”

Brown explained that the Press’ contracts with distributors are usually structured to last for around three to five years. About a year in advance of deciding whether to renew their current contract with Lakeside, the Press began its process of requesting proposals from potential distributors, according to Brown. 

She said that the Press’s candidates presented financially similar proposals. Lakeside was among the final contenders.

“We have the responsibility to look at all the options,” Brown said.

Throughout the process, the Press considered companies which would only provide fulfillment services, like Lakeside, and companies that could provide both fulfillment and sales, like Norton.

Brown described Norton’s sales opportunities as a “decisive factor” in the process. She said that the partnership with Norton could help the Press get into the college market, and that Norton could provide resources for and insight into how the Press can better develop books to be attractive to that market.

“It was really a unique opportunity because to do that you really need boots on the ground and people that are talking to the professors on campus,” Brown said.

Yale University Press Director John Donatich said that W.W. Norton is an employee-owned company, which aligns its business mission with the Press, which is not-for-profit.

He added that the company’s focus areas are closely aligned with those of Yale University Press. 

Gibbons wrote to the News that the new partnership will provide Yale Press with “greater reach and exposure.”

“We looked at all the various vendors, and Norton seemed like a good fit,” said Donatich. “They, like us, do a lot of scholarly based nonfiction, and fiction and poetry, so their expertise, and the disciplines that they publish in, were really nicely mapped to our own.”

Financially and operationally independent of the University, Yale University Press was founded in 1908 and became an official Yale department in 1961.

Benjamin Hernandez covers Woodbridge Hall, the President's Office. He previously reported on international affairs at Yale. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, he is a sophomore in Trumbull College majoring in Global Affairs.
Ariela Lopez covers City Hall and City Politics. Originally from New York City, she is a first-year in Branford College.