San Francisco Chronicle books editor John McMurtrie announced on Twitter on Wednesday, “I got laid off.” He added, “The bright side? More time for reading.” (Separately, arts and entertainment editor and Sunday datebook editor Leba Hertz tell us she is retiring at the end of the week, by her choice.) We queried editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper about what McMurtrie’s dismissal means for their coverage, and she writes: “We still plan on having robust coverage of books, including reviews. This personnel decision is not a reflection of the importance of that content for The Chronicle.”
Lisa Erwin has been promoted to director of production for the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.
Jonathan Ackerman will join Highlights as sales director for its book publishing business, starting March 11 and reporting to vp and associate publisher Michael Eisenberg. Most recently, he was a vp of sales and national accounts director at Baker & Taylor’s Publisher Services/Bookmasters.
At the American Booksellers Association, Sydney Jarrard is being promoted to the new position of content director, adding responsibility for supervising content creation for BookWeb.org, ABA social media initiatives, and overall member communications on top of overseeing Bookselling This Week. Daniel O’Brien is promoted to senior membership manager.
Max Edwards has left MMB Creative (formerly Mulcahy Associates) to start his own agency, Apple Tree Literary.
Also in the UK, Serpent’s Tail founder Pete Ayrton has joined HopeRoad where he will lead a new imprint, Small Axes, “republishing post-colonial classics that helped to shape cultural shifts at the time of their printing and remain as relevant today as when they were first published.”
Not (Completely) Forthcoming
As the nation now knows, West Virginia Congresswoman Carol Miller has inadvertently dubbed Hachette Book Group as Hatchet Books. She was referring to the Center Street imprint in particular when she queried Michael Cohen about his aborted book deal with the publisher for TRUMP REVOLUTION: From the Tower to the White House, Understanding Donald J. Trump. As a refresher, the Daily Beast first reported on the circulation of Cohen’s proposal in February 2018, following the publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Cohen said at the time, “I have been working on a book and am extremely thankful that it has been well received and sought after by multiple publishers.”
There was an auction for the book, conducted by Mel Berger at William Morris Endeavor, with Kate Hartson at Center Street prevailing. At the time the deal was said to be worth $500,000 — as asserted by Congresswoman Miller, so it was news on Wednesday when Cohen testified that the offer was approximately $750,000. But by May 2018 the Daily Beast had reported the deal had been called off “in recent weeks.” The publisher confirms to us that a deal was never formally executed following the auction (and indeed they had never announced a deal for the project). Berger says by email that he no longer represents Cohen.
DR. SEUSS’S HORSE MUSEUM will be published by Random House Children’s on September 3, with an announced first printing of 250,000 copies. The manuscript was discovered in the late author’s La Jolla home 21 years after his death, with illustrator Andrew Joyner completing the unfinished artwork to accompany Dr. Seuss’s original text, providing “a look that is both subtly Seussian and wholly his own.”