New York magazine and Vulture writer and books editor Boris Kachka is leaving his position to become books editor at the Los Angeles Times. The LAT said in an announcement, “We’re pleased to announce that Boris Kachka is joining The Times as books editor. Boris comes to us from New York magazine, where has been books editor for the last few years, and a writer and editor for two decades…In recent years he has substantially expanded the magazine’s book coverage across all of its verticals, overseeing excerpts, stories on new authors and titles, publishing news, and more.”
Julia Turner, deputy managing editor of the LAT told PL, “We’re thrilled that Boris will be continuing the work Carolyn Kellogg did making the Los Angeles Times the center of literary coverage in the West. As our newsroom expands with the support of our new owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, we’re investing more in books: Boris will be leading that charge. He’ll also be working closely with our events team on our annual Festival of Books, which draws 150,000 readers every year and will mark its 25th anniversary in 2020.”
A spokesperson for New York magazine said, “After he leaves his role, which was split between editing books coverage and writing, Vulture will be hiring to replace both aspects of his work.” New York Magazine and Vulture also recently hired Molly Young as literary critic, as well as Lila Shapiro as a senior reporter at Vulture with an emphasis on book publishing.
Elsewhere, Meredith Schwartz has been promoted to editor-in-chief of Library Journal and Kathy Ishizuka has been promoted to editor-in-chief of School Library Journal. Ishizuka succeeds Rebecca Miller, who becomes group publisher of School Library Journal, Library Journal, and The Horn Book.
Esi Sogah has been promoted to executive editor at Kensington, now overseeing the Dafina imprint while continuing to work with her list of authors.
Liana Willis has been promoted to associate editor at The Experiment.
Brittany Vibbert has been promoted to senior art director at Sourcebooks, and Carrie Conlisk has joined the company as sales coordinator. She was formerly manager at Bookie’s Bookstores in Chicago.
Literary agent James Fitzgerald died, on December 28.
HBG ceo Michael Pietsch welcomed staff back from vacation with his traditional memo, celebrating “another year of profit growth, in line with our budget, and another big step in transforming the company.” Already planned or underway for the new year: “A clear lesson from our recent employee opinion survey is that we need to bring all eight of our offices closer together. I’m encouraged about the steps we’ve already taken to improve communication protocols and technology, and this will remain a strong priority for 2020. We will also continue our focus on diversity, on compensation, and on work/life balance, and will announce an expansion of our work-from-home program shortly.” As he notes, “The way we consume information and entertainment changes almost daily, and we must constantly renew our business to stay ahead of these changes. With our focus always on the excellence of our books, we will continue expanding the range of our publishing, the ways we originate books, and the ways we connect writers with readers.”
Legal: California Freelance Law and Authors
The Authors Guild has a look at California’s new law AB-5 that requires treating many freelance workers as employees. On the question of whether the law affects book authors, “We were assured by those working on the bill that trade book authors are not covered, and we do not see a basis for disagreeing since the bill clearly states that AB-5 applies only to ‘persons providing labor or services’ and authors provide neither ‘labor’ nor ‘services’ under standard book contracts—they instead grant copyright licenses or assignments. Additionally, royalties—even in the form of advance payments—are not considered wages. It is difficult to imagine how a court would conclude that a typical book contract is for labor or services.”
Some book contracts, though, such as work-made-for-hire agreements and “contracts where the author has ongoing obligations and the publisher has greater editing ability or control over the content” could be subject to the new law, though. And the AG recommends that, “Publishers and authors who want to be certain to retain a freelancer relationship should be careful to make sure the contracts are written as simple license grants and not as services agreements.”