PANZ NewsBooksellers and publishers from all over the country packed the Oak Room at Auckland’s Victoria Park last night to celebrate the publishing career of Karen Ferns, former Australia/New Zealand joint managing director of Random House.
Paying tribute to Karen’s formidable achievements, Kevin Chapman said “It is right that we celebrate all that you have brought to the NZ publishing scene.
“You became recognised as the best. Michael Moynahan says that when he was the Marketing Director of Random House, he knew you were a better Marketing Director than he was. So when he became MD, he set out to hire you. In his words “I didn’t interview Karen, I basically just begged her to take the job”. And you did, going on to much higher honours.
“Your industry work has been invaluable as well. You came to issues able to separate the industry need from your company’s need, and you weren’t political or agenda-driven or ego-driven, but outcome-driven.
“Your author relationships are also a high point. Kevin also noted Karen’s mentoring of staff. “You looked after them, gave them the freedom to be creative, and you had no fear of them shining.
“We all thank you for everything you have done, and we hope that we have not lost you to the industry or the sector. May good things be in your future. You deserve them.”
Among the out of town publishers and booksellers who made a point of attending the farewell were Julia Marshall, Fergus Barrowman, Bridget Williams, Lincoln Gould, Mike Paardekooper, Tilly Lloyd and David Thorp.
Joan Mackenzie said. “If you asked me to describe her, the words I’d use would be: calm, steady, considered, compassionate, and wise. Karen has led a company which by any measure has been at the forefront of our industry, and from which many of us in this room have benefitted.
“During Karen’s tenure, Random House’s local list topped the Nielsen charts 15 times; their NZ books had 42 entries in the overall Top 3 titles, and 177 in the overall Top 10. It seems to me that you couldn’t get these kinds of results without a particular world view which then finds its way into everything you do.
“Karen’s management of people and the way she’s always fostered co-operation between both sides of the trade has all contributed to a substantial and impressive body of work.
“On behalf of all my bookselling colleagues, Karen, we salute you and we collectively wish you all the very best for the next chapter in your life, and thank you for the real difference you made in an industry which is not always collaborative,” Joan concluded.