Every publishing career follows a narrative arc. For some, it’s the Proustian ebb of Swann’s Way. For others, it’s Finnegans Wake. And the most gripping career stories tend to be those that jump out of the genre altogether. As conversations with a dozen book-world veterans show, life after publishing does exist, and what’s more, there’s a world out there that — mirabile dictu — values the skills honed in editing and marketing authors. So as a companion to our look at the incoming publishing Class of ’01 (see p. 7), this month we survey the outgoing crowd and their often impressive career jump-cuts.
Going boldly beyond galleys and blads — from the top levels, no less — has been Charlie Hayward, once President and CEO of Simon & Schuster and Little, Brown, who left publishing five years ago to the month. “Sometimes it seems like yesterday,” he says, “and sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago.” After launching his own management consulting firm, Hayward helped Steve Crist and Alpine Capital go after the Daily Racing Form (the track being his passion) in 1997 and again — this time successfully — in 1998. He’s now President and COO of the company. Does he miss his old job? “The main thing I miss about publishing is the people,” he claims. But it’s a relief to find that turning an avocation into a job works: “I still love the track.”
Then there’s Michael Lynton, who left Hollywood in 1996 to become Chairman and CEO of Penguin, overseeing the purchase of Putnam by Pearson before leaving in early 2000 to become President of AOL International. Asked about his sortie, he emails PT that he misses publishing, but not “pub lunches.” Another top manager who has moved into a new direction is Willa Perlman, most recently President of Hasbro Property Group, and before that, President of Golden Books. She is now with the small consulting and recruiting firm The Cheyenne Group. The shift from S&S to Golden was, she says, the beginning of a move into different distribution channels, and an “emphasis on brands rather than the individual story.” Then Hasbro allowed her to “exploit properties in a more diverse set of circumstances,” while the latest hop (in May) to Cheyenne yields “a different vantage point to see if the balance would be better.” It’s looking good so far.
Others ride the osmotic tides between the book and magazine worlds. Bob Wallace, once of ABC News, and later Editor in Chief at St. Martin’s, moved to Talk Magazine in 1999 as Editorial Director. Laura Matthews, who spent most of her career in magazines until moving to Putnam as Senior Editor, has just returned to ’zine-land at Martha Stewart Living (see People). And Andrea Chambers, who moved from People to Putnam, where she worked until 1995 as Executive Editor, is back in magazines as Editorial Director of international editions for Seventeen and corporate owner Primedia, as well as editor of the book division and editorial projects director. Perhaps trumping them all is Michael Naumann. He’s been shuttling around Holtzbrinck, from Rowohlt to Henry Holt, where he was Publisher, back to Germany as Minister of Culture, and then Co-Publisher of Die Zeit, where he was a correspondent in Washington in the ’80s — turning a career arc into a neat circle.
Some opt for a loftier calling. Greg Tobin, SVP, Editor in Chief of Ballantine Books, left a year and a half ago to complete two novels under contract to Tom Doherty’s Forge Books imprint at St. Martin’s. His first novel, Conclave, the story of the “next” papal election, was published last month. Tobin also tells PT that since January 2000 he’s been a graduate theology student at Seton Hall, where he’s working toward a Master of Theology degree with a focus on Church history. In May 2000, he received the Jubilee Medal Pro Meritis from Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, then-Archbishop of Newark (before he was transferred to Washington, D.C. and elevated to cardinal). Asked whether he misses the industry, Tobin says, “I do miss the daily roller-coaster of book publishing, but I’m enjoying the life of an author-scholar even more than I thought I would.” Also taking a more spiritual turn is Audrey Cusson, proprietor with her husband Jeff Cuiule of Mirabai, a bookstore in Woodstock, NY branded as “A Resource for Conscious Living.” Cusson has been EVP Marketing of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, until she and her husband decided to leave NYC last year for “a simpler, more meaningful way of life in the tranquil countryside,” and buy the bookshop. Cusson says that the transition has been “remarkably smooth,” and believes that there was karma at work in their finding this particular store and town. Their advertising and marketing backgrounds have made it easier to find ways to increase attendance and sales, and books now make up about 50% of the total inventory. Also returning to more grounded bookselling roots is Tom Simon, most recently VP, bn.com. This month he is opening a small bookstore, Seventh Avenue Books, in Park Slope, featuring both used and new titles, plus remainders. Strand watch out.
Pat Mulcahy has one foot in two worlds. She is co-owner of Tillie’s, a Brooklyn-based coffee bar that offers readings by local authors, like neighbor Myla Goldberg. But Mulcahy also keeps up her writing, editing and literary consulting, working with James Lee Burke and helping Quincy Jones on his forthcoming autobio. Another voyager into the semi-public domain is Ronni Stolzenberg, who was once VP Creative Marketing Director at Dell. When she saw an ad (in the New York Times) for an Associate Marketing Director for the Museum of Natural History, she decided to send in her résumé. Now she works for the museum’s Marketing and Communications Department, where her job is “getting people to come to the museum.” She’s tackling database development, as well as the launch of the museum’s new ice-cream parlor (“The Big Dipper,” natch). The job is “wildly fascinating,” she says, but she’s amazed to be using the same skills she honed in publishing.
The biggest geographical leap has been taken by ex-Ingramite Director of Marketing Sue Flaster, who just married Harald Henrysson, Curator of the Jussi Bjöörling Museum in Borläänge, Sweden. The couple “will probably be buying into a gym” while she’s “trying to learn Swedish” says Flaster, who also consults for RealRead. But the Most Fun Beyond Publishing Award may go to 44-year-old Steven Schragis, the new chief of the Learning Annex, that adult education emporium with courses such as “Telepathic Communication with Animals.” The former Carol Publishing chief sold the company for $2.5 million last year and now wrangles teaching gigs from the likes of Jerry Lewis. Those seeking radical career moves may be interested in the Annex’s upcoming course, “How to Open Your Own Laundromat & Turn Coins into Ca$h!” Then again, there’s always the ever-popular “How to Get a Job in Publishing.”