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Hippocrene Books

Hippocrene Books

Over the last forty years, Hippocrene Books has become one of America’s foremost publishers of foreign language reference books and ethnic cookbooks. As a small publishing house in a marketplace dominated by conglomerates, Hippocrene has succeeded by continually reinventing its list while maintaining a strong international and ethnic orientation.

George Blagowidow founded the company in 1970, initially as a distribution firm called Optimum Book Marketing. In the following year the publishing side of the business came into being as Hippocrene Books. The name Hippocrene comes from Greek mythology and refers to the sacred fountain of the Muses that was the source of their inspiration.

Hippocrene’s international focus derives from Mr. Blagowidow’s passion for travel and his personal history. Born in Poland of Russian parents, he survived the Nazi occupation and narrowly escaped from communist Europe in 1945. After attending university in Antwerp, Belgium, he came to New York in 1951, where he earned master’s and doctorate degrees in business from New York University. Before starting his own publishing company, Mr. Blagowidow held executive positions at Doubleday, Macmillan, and Reader’s Digest.

Hippocrene’s first list, in spring 1972, featured European literary classics in translation, including the Polish novel The Doll. In 1973, it began to distribute foreign language dictionaries for the German company Langenscheidt, thereby entering what would prove to be its strongest category.

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