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Keeping It Real

Profile of a small, independent publishing company

This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

They say there's not a lot of money to be made in publishing (print, that is). And unless you head a megaconglomerate or you're an editor of a fashion magazine with a hefty clothing allowance, maybe they're right. But take it from Los Angeles-based Really Great Books Inc. founders Nina Wiener and Mari Florence-if books are your passion, running an independent press equals fulfillment. And it could even make you popular. "Well, Nina is," says Florence, 36, a writer who used to pitch ideas to Wiener when she worked as West Coast editor for the fallen Buzz magazine's Buzz Books imprints division.

The truth behind Wiener's "popularity" is never revealed, but they admit Really Great Books' cheering section grows daily. Books like 1998 first release Take My Picture Gary Leonard ($17.95, www.reallygreatbooks.com) by Gary Leonard, nationally acclaimed L.A.-based crime novel The Jook by Gary Phillips ($12.95), and screenwriting favorite Plots and Characters ($24.95) by Millard Kaufman, which debuted on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List, have prompted swarms of fan e-mails and submissions to the publishers' Los Angeles office.

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