HarperCollins general books group president & publisher Michael Morrison will leave the company at the end of January, as he “has decided not to renew his contract.” Morrison, who spent nearly 19 years at HarperCollins, said in the announcement: “After 35 years of going to a Manhattan skyscraper every day, I thought it was about time I experienced a different life.”
As a result, Jonathan Burnham will be promoted to president and publisher for Harper, overseeing Harper, Harper Paperbacks, Harper Perennial, Harper Business, Harper Design, Harper Wave, Broadside Books, Amistad, and Ecco. Liate Stehlik moves up to president and publisher for William Morrow/Avon, overseeing William Morrow, Avon, Dey Street, Harper Voyager, and Custom House. Both Stehlik and Burnham will continue to report to HarperCollins ceo Brian Murray, and will sit on the global executive committee; their promotions, according to the announcement, will “more closely [align] the management structure, roles, and responsibilities with the company’s global strategy.” The Harper One group will now report to Murray as well, while a new publisher is hired. (They had been reporting to Morrison in the interim.)
Murray said of Morrison’s departure: “I’ve worked with Michael for 19 years. In that time, he has run an extremely successful publishing division in the most challenging and competitive segments of trade, during the most tumultuous period of digital evolution. Under his guidance, the division published books that won hundreds of literary prizes, sold millions of copies, and impacted our culture in numerous ways. Michael has been a positive force for authors and employees at HarperCollins throughout his tenure. We are grateful for all his contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
On Burnham and Stehlik’s promotions, Murray added: “As our strategy has shifted towards greater global growth and as we have expanded our trade publishing program across 24 countries and 17 languages, it’s imperative that our management organization, roles and responsibilities align with our overall approach. This new structure will allow us to better serve our authors and achieve our publishing and business objectives. I am excited to work directly with Jonathan and Liate to accelerate our investments and growth plans. They are both extremely talented executives and strong publishers who will now be closely involved in setting global priorities and helping to identify emerging authors for all HarperCollins markets around the world.”
In other personnel news, Rachel Fershleiser has taken the position of senior director of marketing for Knopf, Pantheon & Schocken Books, starting today, reporting to associate publisher Chris Gillespie. She was executive director of audience development and reader engagement at HMH.
Beth Meister has been promoted to vice president, executive director of sales management and planning for Knopf, Pantheon, Schocken, and Doubleday.
At Abrams, Holly Dolce is promoted to editorial director, food & drink, and will also retain her role as executive editor. In addition, Samantha Weiner has been promoted to senior editor, while Sarah Massey moves up to associate editor.
Jim Colbert has joined Highlights for Children as global content licensing specialist, where he will license original stories, puzzles, and animations. He was previously at Copyright Clearance Center.
Sweden’s Natur & Kultur has appointed two new literary scouts in the US: Jon Baker for non-fiction and Edmison/Harper for fiction.
Groundbreaking gay writer and comedian Bob Smith, 59, died on January 20 from complications from ALS. He was the author of five books, starting with Openly Bob, which won a Lambda Literary Award for humor, and most recently, Treehab: Tales from My Natural Wild Life, which he wrote on an iPad with the remaining use only of one hand.
Even though the deal received approval from Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, private equity firm Aurelius backed out of their agreement to purchase Connect Books in the UK for £10.6 million, saying ” we see now way of financing this transaction.” (Obviously, if you can’t fund a $15 million deal, you shouldn’t be in the private equity business.) But the Connect Group continues to maintain they have a binding obligation “to complete the transaction on or before January 31.”