After presiding over years of asset sales, waves of significant layoffs, and a significant decline in sales, Pearson chief executive John Fallon has decided to retire in 2020 after a successor is selected. By his account, “Over 75% of the company is now growing, as we work our way through a major industry wide disruption in the other 25% of Pearson – US Higher Education Courseware. All of Pearson is now very well placed to meet the need for affordable and effective learning…. We’re now at the stage where it’s time to transition to a new leader, who can bring a fresh perspective.” Pearson’s stock was up modestly in early trading in London, on the combination of Fallon’s departure and the sale of their remaining 25 percent stake in Penguin Random House, with some of those proceeds pledged towards a £350 million share buyback. Reuters notes that Pearson’s shares are worth about half of what they were when Fallon took over in 2013.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company evp of global sales Lee Ramsayer has decided to leave the company at the end of the year. He has been at HMH since early 2012. The company disclosed signing a letter agreement that “also provides for a release of certain claims by Mr. Ramsayer against the Company, non-disparagement obligations, certain confidentiality requirements, and non-competition and non-solicitation restrictions for a period of 12 months,” and Ramsayer will receive contractual severance pay and bonus.
An HMH spokesperson tells PL that chief revenue officer Mike Evans, who joined the company earlier this year and to whom Ramsayer reported, “will be working more closely with our sales team, and our sales leaders will report directly to him moving forward.”
Zareen Jaffery stepped down from her position as executive editor at Simon & Schuster Children’s and Salaam Reads on December 3. She is currently “taking time off to explore her next chapter.” Simon & Schuster is looking to fill the position.
Among the victims of the bankruptcy administration of UK retailer The Book People is Galley Beggar Press, the publisher of Lucy Ellman’s Booker-nominated Ducks, Newburyport. “The Book People owe us over £40,000 – and that is make-or-break for a small company like us,” they wrote in a crowd-funding campaign to fill the hole. When the appeal was posted, they feared that “what should have been the best year of our little company’s life into its worst – and something that might kill it.” But the post has already yielded pledges worth over 80 percent of their goal.
Their GoFundMe page notes, “The Book People offer hardback versions of the [Booker] shortlist to their readers, and as soon as we learned that we were longlisted, we were put in touch with the Book People and made to understand that everyone on the shortlist would need to supply an edition. They wanted 8000 books, and would pay just over £40,000. It was a sizeable undertaking. It’s the sort of money that we never normally play with, but it was part of the schedule and the competition and when Ducks Newburyport made the shortlist, we did it.” In another positive result, the press says on Twitter that they will meet with Booker officials in the new year “to put our heads together on how to make things easier for small presses in the future. They really want to help, and this is wonderful for us all.”
Inkwood Books in East Haddonfield NJ will move to a new, larger space, just down the street when its lease expires in February. The new space is located at 106 King’s Highway East.
Porchlight announced their category picks for the best business books of the year, which will compete for their overall award:
It’s How We Play the Game, by Ed Stack
Team Human, by Douglas Rushkoff
The Invisible Brand, by William Ammerman
Creative Trespassing, by Tania Katan
How to Do Nothing, by Jenny Odell
Don’t Be Evil, by Rana Foroohar
The Economists’ Hour, by Binyamin Appelbaum
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, by Shoshana Zuboff
You knew this already, but NPD has confirmed that the three Fifty Shades of Grey books were the bestselling titles of the decade in the US. Random House and Penguin imprints captured eight of the top ten slots — but in a sign of diminishment at the top of the market, at least for print and ebook formats, the most recent title to make their list is the 2015 release of The Girl on The Train, by Paula Hawkins, with 8.2 million units.
The biggest recent contender — Michelle Obama’s Becoming — has sold about 4.75 million print copies in English and sold much more modestly in ebook. The title had big, but unspecified, audiobook sales, which are not part of NPD’s count. For now, the No. 10 slot goes to Divergent by Veronica Roth, with 6.6 million units. A decade from now let’s hope the list is able to include all major formats.