With News Corp making the spinoff of its entire publishing business official, it remains to be seen how the newly formed company will operate over the next few months, pending approval, and afterwards, presuming regulatory bodies give the OK for the split. The new business will start life with cash reserves and without any debt, and Rupert Murdoch, talking to Bloomberg Thursday, was appropriately bullish: “Our publishing business is more valuable than people give us credit for…There are great digital opportunities in publishing, and net-net, around the world, we’ll be increasing our numbers and increasing our costs and hopefully increasing revenues as well.”
At a party for its authors in London Thursday night HarperCollins UK ceo Victoria Barnsley also expressed enthusiasm about the spinoff, according to the Bookseller: “We are quite happy to make the news, but being the news is less common. Today we heard that we will be part of a separate publishing company. My gut feeling is that it is good news—we will be a bigger fish in a smaller pond…We will have more clout. I think we will have more investment, which will be good for all of us.”
But on the US side, the spinoff news comes as Harper has been streamlining departments and eliminating jobs. They did so earlier this month with its sales force and now we’ve learned that William Morrow’s publicity and marketing departments will be reorganized “to bring the two departments even closer together to capitalize on the strengths of each,” according to a company spokesperson, mirroring the structure on the Harper side.
Associate publisher Lynn Grady will now oversee both publicity and marketing departments, while Seale Ballenger is leaving the company after more than 8 years, most recently as vp, group director of publicity for Morrow. In a note to colleagues Ballenger said he is “feeling grateful and proud to be a part of its many successes and accomplishments, and open to the plethora of possibilities that lay ahead of me. I know that when a door closes, a window opens. I am energized to find that open window and, like Alice and the looking glass, venture through it.”