Rosanna Hansen has been named SVP, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Weekly Reader Corp. She left Reader’s Digest Children’s last month. . . Liz Maguire is leaving Free Press for Basic, where she will be Associate Publisher, Editorial Director. . . Since Abrams bought STC and Smithmark, there have been several casualties, including SVP Director of Sales & Marketing Steve Tager (still reachable through STC), and Rights Director Christian Red, with others to come. . . Nicholas Callaway’s (re)transition back to publishing from packaging includes moving to S&S for distribution, hiring Michael Murphy (ex-Publisher of Morrow) as Director of Sales and Marketing and Audrey Barr (formerly of Larousse Kingfisher Chambers) as Trade Sales and Marketing Manager, and retaining the services of Rosemarie Morse for publicity. Associate Publisher Paula Litzky is leaving to pursue other interests. . . Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, most recently AD of HarperInformation, has been promoted to VP, Senior Art Director for Adult Trade, reporting to Laurie Rippon. Joseph Montebello, 32-year veteran at Harper where he was most recently VP, Creative Director, has left the company. He will announce his plans shortly, but meanwhile is reachable at 212 242-3073.
Geoff Shandler has been named executive editor at Little, Brown (filling Bill Phillips’s slot). The New York Observer calls him “one of the hottest young names in New York book publishing.”. . . Geoffrey Burn has been named MD for Stanford U. Press. He previously ran a division of Thomson. Jill Cohen, Vice President of QVC Publishing, has announced that Karen Murgolo has joined the company as its Acquisitions and Rights Director. In this newly created position, Murgolo is responsible for acquiring new books and authors for a variety of nonfiction lifestyle titles, including cooking, decorating, beauty and fashion. She was Senior Editor at BookSpan’s The Literary Guild and GuildAmerica Books. . . Pam Art was named President and CEO of Storey Communications. . . As reported elsewhere, Lisa Queen steps down and Avon executive Jennifer Hershey is rumored to be in line for the job (but you know what those Harper rumors are like) . . . As noted elsewhere, Maria Guarnaschelli is going to Norton as VP, Senior Editor. She was previously at Scribner. . . Kathryn Court, who started there in 1977, has been named President of Penguin and Publisher of Plume. Clare Ferraro remains President of Plume.
Jessica Carter has been appointed New Media and Online Marketing Director, Knopf Publishing Group, reporting to Tony Chirico, who was himself recently promoted to EVP and COO. She was previously Promotion and New Media Manager, Vintage and Anchor. Jason Zuzga will be working with Carter as Knopf’s “New Media Coordinator.”
HarperCollins’ Susan Friedland bought Marcella Hazan’s ‘valedictory,’ tentatively titled Master Classes and, Friedland say, “Marcella wants to tell the world everything she knows.” Susan Lescher is the agent on this “big figure” world rights deal. . . .
We’re so inundated with must-read stuff, that grok, The Industry Standard’s new magazine, was sitting on our desks for a full week before it got noticed. Or picked up. When we finally got around to it, there was a page headlined “Five Myths about E-Books” by Steve Zeitchik, with the winning opening lines: “Graduation ceremonies come close. Political campaigns, perhaps. But in their ability to generate gaseous conjecture at a complete remove from reality, it’s hard to beat e-books.” A booster himself, he goes on to bash the standard (death of literature, etc.) myths about them. The freshness of this launch issue loses a little credibility with the pic of Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche together, smiling for the camera.
By the way, some people, including Celia McGee, were confused by our wording last month when we said she was leaving her Daily News book beat for general assignment. She’s not leaving the paper; she remains as a features writer.
Word is that Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff has sent around a memo to all of his NY employees informing them that he has rented out Radio City Music Hall on September 15, from 10–12 for all of his employees to gather together and hear him speak on the state of the company.
The repackaging and repromoting of Penguin’s The Pelican Shakespeare included corporate sponsorship of this year’s Shakespeare in Central Park, which led them to organize a celebration for friends and press: catered dinner at the open-air Delacorte theatre followed by a performance of Julius Caesar. (As anyone who has ever queued for the free tickets will tell you, being handed a ticket as you arrive is a rare treat.) Joining in the festivities were amongst others St. Marks Bookshop’s Bob Contant, BOMC’s Victoria Skurnick, B&N’s Karen Patterson, Borders’ Christine Cody and the Drama Bookshop’s Rozanne Seelan, widow of legendary owner Arthur Seelan, who died recently. The rest of the promotion involves a sweepstakes for $200 of Shakespeare publications from across Penguin Putnam imprints.
Posted all around Barnes & Noble stores, right by the cash register, are brochures featuring happy looking people, and the line “Discover the Successful Author in You.” Yes, it’s iUniverse.com, coming to a store near you! Inside the brochure, we learn that “iUniverse is a new kind of publisher. . . . We have changed the publishing world by harnessing technology and the power of the Internet to give everyone the opportunity to get published. Moving beyond traditional publishing, iUniverse works with industry leaders to be faster and more efficient.” One industry leader, Steve Riggio (remember B&N’s 49% stake in the company) knows that this move won’t be welcomed by those very traditionalists. As he said in a recent Industry Standard interview, “Traditional publishers and editors have basically taken a very negative approach to this, believing a company like iUniverse is largely bringing works to the marketplace that are not worthy of being published by a traditional publishing house. And that’s really myopic, shortsighted and dumb.”
Ever been on Switchouse.com? It’s a service that allows users to buy, sell and swap products, including books, music, movies, and electronics. Though it claims to have only 1.8 million products available (as opposed to Ebay’s multiple millions), many bestselling books are being offered for swap. Tuesdays with Morrie, currently back at the top of the NYT hardcover bestseller list, is available, as are books by Grisham, Crichton, and Rowling. What did we get? Nothing. Alas, we read the terms of agreement, which make Ebay’s attempts to rein in its users look like the beginning of a police state.
FROM THE ANNALS
On the theory that the adage about the more things change, the more they stay the same is the ultimate truism, we present the following:
This is a conversation recorded by Robert Sterling Yard. He was a well-known figure in American publishing in the era between the turn of the 20th century and the end of WWI, and headed the imprint of Moffat, Yard, & Co. From his book The Publisher, written in 1913:
“The trouble with this business,” said a celebrated publisher, “is that you’re always between the devil and the deep sea. There’s harbor nowhere.”
“Explain yourself,” I cried. “Who is the devil and who the deep sea?”
“The public and the author, of course,” he replied.
“Ah!” said I; “but where does the literary agent come in?”
“You’re right,” he returned with a grin. “I’ll have to revise my simile and add a third monster, for the literary agent is surely the devil.”
And now for something completely different:
Woody Allen on reading: “I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.”