NEW YORK — Random House Inc. said Monday that it has signed a contract to acquire Crown Publishing Group, a book marketer and publisher whose best-selling authors include Judith Krantz, Jean Auel and Dominick Dunne. The price was not disclosed.
Crown's biggest business is Publishers Central Bureau, a major mail-order distributor of books and audio and visual materials; its second biggest is Outlet Book Co., a leading marketer of promotional, remaindered and bargain books.
Random House, which is owned by the Newhouse family's Advance Publications, said the acquisition would open "new opportunities in the mail-order and promotional book fields."
Nat Wartels, who co-founded Crown with Bob Simon in 1933, will remain chairman of Crown. Simon died in 1966. Alan Mirken will remain president, while becoming vice chairman of Random House.
Wartels, who is 86, said in a news release: "We thought long and hard about selling Crown. But when the time came three weeks ago, we spoke only to Random House."
He said he was impressed by the amount of support and independence Random House has given to such previous acquisitions as Alfred A. Knopf, Pantheon, Times Books, Villard, Ballantine and Fawcett.
Mirken said "it was a very harmonious negotiation" that was done over three weeks without investment bankers.