BOOK BEAT 18 – Trident Press

Trident Reference Publishing – from the Naples City Dock to the World

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   November 15-21, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

 Which Naples company keeps a warehouse facility in Jackson, Mississippi, distributes its products in sixty countries, and maintains a headquarters office overlooking the City Dock? The answer is Trident Reference Publishing, a low-profile but highly successful business located in Naples since 1988. According to Elaine Evans, co-founder and International Sales manager, the computer and internet revolution made it possible to locate a business like this anywhere, so why not in paradise? In this loveliest of places to live and work, Evans and her husband, C.E.O. Simon Bailey, have built a major enterprise.

So now this Naples-based publishing house is a secret no longer. But don’t send your manuscripts or even your proposals. This wide-ranging publisher seeks authors and projects on its own, and unsolicited materials are not considered. Trident’s specialty areas include historical military books, all sorts of reference volumes, classic (public domain) fiction, cookbooks, medical guides, and titles for children. Trident also publishes quality reprints of rare or long out-of-print titles.

In the world of reference books, Trident has made its way among those publishers using Webster’s name. Among its standard titles is The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary. This and several related offerings are now published in the “International Encyclopedic Edition,” which means, I believe, that the entries are supplemented by illustrations, maps, charts and tables when appropriate. In addition, these volumes include encyclopedic supplements on critical research topics. Trident also publishes several superb encyclopedias and atlases. Built on the Funk and Wagnall database that was purchased many years ago, “New International Webster’s” dictionaries (and related language reference products) are available in various formats, from imposing two-volume boxed presentation gift sets to handy vest pocket reference 3-packs – complete with calculators and highlighter pens – for sending the kids off to school.

Trident’s military history catalogue features two multi-volume sets of illustrated histories. One is The Great War: The Illustrated History of the First World War in six volumes. The other, marketed through the secondworldwar.net website, is The Second World War: An Illustrated History of WWII. These sets are not narrative or interpretative histories, but rather well-edited compilations of photographs and news reports from around the world first gathered the United Kingdom as issues of the magazine The War Illustrated. As such, they are archives of contemporary record rather than works of scholarly synthesis. These sets were initially developed in England at the request of the Imperial War Museum.

Other titles in military history include a classic biography, Nelson; Campfire and Battlefield: An Illustrated History of the Great Civil War (a stunning reprint of an 1894 publication); Hitler: A Chilling Tale of Propaganda (reprint of 1934 original, showing how Hitler was portrayed to the German people); and Army & Navy Stores Limited, a reprint of a 1939 catalogue that reveals the material culture of Great Britain at the outset of WWII. 

Trident reprints classic British literature in both individual volumes and boxed sets. These Signature Classics come in standard and deluxe editions. The latter are elegantly bound in deluxe padded leatherette with gilding on all three sides – ready for formal libraries. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities are examples of the many titles in the Signature Classics. The boxed sets, six soft cover books in a set, are grouped under such titles as “Romance Classics,” “Adventure Classics,” and “Classics of Mystery and Suspense.” Associated with this series is the “Library Shakespeare,” a reproduction of a major nineteenth-century illustrated edition featuring work by George Cruikshank and others. Like many other Trident projects, this one is aimed at book collectors – and perhaps interior decorators.

For children, Trident offers “Funny Faces” reusable sticker books as well as basic books on the alphabet, numbers, shapes, animals, telling time, and so forth. These and other related titles are also marketed via a website called schoolbookzone.com along with many of Trident’s reference volumes, including the vest pocket editions. Point of sale floor displays containing various sets and subsets of these publications are available for bookstores. The same kinds of displays are available for calendars, Chef Express volumes, and other Trident publications.

Trident also markets hard cover, soft cover and spiral bound cookbooks in the “Ultimate Recipe Collection” “Chef Express,” and “Mix ‘n Match Menus” series, among others. Almost any kind of collection can be drawn from Trident’s 7,000-recipe (and growing) database. The New International Standard Medical & Health Encyclopedia (available in various editions and formats) and The Med Express Natural Healing Collection are Trident’s main entries in the medical reference area.

Now here is an odd circumstance. When you head down to your local Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Books-a-Million, you are not likely to find many Trident titles in stock. Trident does little business with these book chains. You are much more likely to find their classic British novels in Sam’s or Costco. You might discover Trident dictionaries in Walgreen’s. Browse a major catalogue-style retailer’s current issue, and you’ll be offered a Trident reference set as a gift if your purchase exceeds a certain amount. Go into Office Depot, and you could run into an elaborate Trident SchoolBookZone display with all kinds of age-appropriate educational products for Back-To-School. Trident cookbooks can be found in Big Lots stores. If this sounds like a limited marketplace, think again. Most of Trident’s titles have press runs of 25,000 copies!

Trident is a nimble operation. Working with subject experts, translators, editors, and printers around the world, it can turn out new products or customize existing ones very quickly. If another publisher, like Time, wants its name on a Dictionary or Desk Reference set, that is something Trident can do. Trident does is own distribution, passing on a cost savings to its customers (retailers) and to the ultimate retail price for consumers. Probably no publisher matches its quality-to-cost ratio. A hallmark of all of Trident’s illustrated books – from atlases to cookbooks – is the amazingly high quality color reproduction.

You can find out a bit about Trident Reference Publishing and the Trident Press line on your own by browsing tridentreference.com or chefexpressinternational.com.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at pjason@aol.com.

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