Saturday, September 24, 2016

Publishers Lunch

Five years after joining the company and leading it through its final restructuring and an IPO, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ceo Linda Zecher has resigned -- apparently dismissed by a restless board. Current board member L. Gordon Crovitz will serve as interim ceo while a search is conducted for a new ceo. Board chair Lawrence K. Fish said in a statement, "The Board decided this was a good time to begin a search for the next CEO, who will be charged with combining strengths across the company to accelerate growth in the core business as well as in adjacent markets, while continuing a disciplined approach to spending." Investors reacted negatively to the news -- along with the declaration that billings and sales are expected to fall "at or near the low end" of that revised guidance, indicating continuing weakness beyond expectations: HMH shares fell almost 10 percent in the first hour of trading Friday morning, shedding close to $1.50 a share and hitting a new all-time below $13.50 a share.

With Zecher's departure, the publishing industry also loses one of its few female ceos. HMH had been the largest female-led publishing company since Marjorie Scardino stepped down from her leadership of Pearson at the end of 2012.

Vp, business development at Diversion Books Mary Cummings will leave the company next month. Diversion has hired Caroline Acebo as acquisition editor, EverAfter Romance. Previously she was editor at Grand Central's Forever imprint. In addition, Christine Saunders has joined as publicist. Most recently she headed her own company, Christine Saunders Public Relations.

The merged companies David C Cook Distribution Canada and Augsburg Fortress Canada will go forward under a new name, Parasource Marketing and Distribution Ltd.

James Patterson has
withdrawn the ill-advised BookShots novel The Murder of Stephen King that was announced a week ago for November publication. Patterson said in a statement, "I do not want to cause Stephen King or his family any discomfort. Out of respect for them, I have decided not to publish 'The Murder of Stephen King." He will replace that release slot with Taking the Titanic.

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