Merriam Press is fully owned and operated by Ray Merriam (pictured above, on 5 November 2010). Merriam Press was started in 1988 when the previous business, International Graphics Corp., was dissolved and its business partners decided to go their separate ways. While Merriam Press was an entirely new business, it was in reality a continuation of what Ray had been doing since January 1968, when a small history publication was started, that was originally called World War II Magazine.
It was not as successful as originally hoped and had to be downgraded to a newsletter until 1974 when a more commercial attempt was begun to produce a World War II history magazine, titled World War Enthusiast 1939-1945. The company at that time was called Graphics House Ltd. (GHL). The magazine's title was the result of Ray's being a fan of Air Enthusiast (now Air International) and Air Combat 1939-1945 (as originally published by Eagle Publications in New Jersey; after they folded it was sold to Challenge Publications in California and unfortunately it became a modern military airpower magazine).
In early 1975 some people expressed their displeasure with the name of the magazine, stating they were not "enthusiastic" about war. So the name was changed to WW2 Journal beginning with Volume 2 Number 3 and with the following issue we went from 5.5 x 8.5 inch to 8.5 x 11 inch format. Sales steadily increased and Bill Dean Books Ltd (of Skybooks International in NYC) started distributing the magazine to hobby shops. By then there were two business partners, Peter Frandsen and William "Bill" Auerbach.
In 1976 it was decided to change the format to cover all 20th century military history and even earlier periods. Our contributors numbered in the dozens and included some very well-known names. The "new" magazine was named the Military Journal. The Squadron Shops started carrying the magazine and was also being sold to hobby shops that Bill Dean didn't reach.
In 1977 the business was incorporated and the name was changed to International Graphics Corporation (IGC).
But with the switch to general military history—even though the bulk of coverage was still World War II—almost half of the original subscribers who were carried over from the WW2 Journal subscription list did not renew, and as a result by 1981 the last issue was published, Number 12 (actually Volume 2 Number 6).
The first booklet was published in 1979. This was Messerschmitts Over Spain. This was Number 1 in the Military Journal Specials series. The Specials were intended to be used for those manuscripts received that were simply too long for the magazine. Having run a few lengthy four- and five-issue articles, readers complained that was too long to publish an entire article.
The first Special sold out its 1,000-copy print run in 13 months. But the timing was perfect. Heller had just released the first model kit of the Bf 109B that served in Spain.
A second Special was released in 1981. The 4th Marines and Soochow Creek was actually the third Special. 2,000 copies were printed. Due to the risks and economics of publishing in bulk quantities, that was the last title released using that method. For all future titles, copies were printed only as needed. Looking back you could say the business was on the cutting edge of a new method of publishing which later became known in the industry as "print on demand." Initially, the "printing" was done on a photocopier. Later on the Specials were re-named "Military Monographs."
A final attempt was made to publish another small magazine in the mid-1980s: Weapons and Warfare Monthly. It lasted just under two years.
In mid-1988 the two partners decided to go their own way, so the business was started as a sole proprietorship again with Ray Merriam as owner, under the name Merriam Press.
In 1997 the Merriam Press web site was started to increase sales of the many books and other products that were then available. The number of titles has grown exponentially and has now exceeded 300 books and over 500 PDF files plus numerous eBook editions of printed titles as well as eBook-only titles.
At about the same time, printing the books directly to a laser printer began, which improved the quality, and added hardcover as well as softcover binding. The books were starting to look more professional as a result. But there was still room for improvement.
In late 2005, it became necessary to find ways of doing things that would streamline the process. The major change involved locating a print on demand service that produced high-quality paperback and hardcover books that looked as good as those produced by any commercial publisher.
Today, in 2015, the Merriam Press has a well-known and highly-respected reputation, that results in award-winning books, such as Donald J. Farrinacci's Truman and MacArthur: Adversaries for a Common Cause, which received the 2010 Silver Medal Award in the category History, Non-fiction, from the Military Writers Society of America.
Attention to detail, personal interaction with authors, and superior production values are what make the Merriam Press a welcome beacon of light in the world of publishing.
Many of the titles released by the Merriam Press are now available through online booksellers such as Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million and others, as well as through major distributors Ingram and Baker & Taylor.