January 14, 2015

“Restructuring” at Penguin


Penguin-Books-logo-007“Restructuring” is one of the corporate world’s greatest euphemisms. It usually means that a lot of people are going to get fired in the name of “greater efficiency” (read: greater profits in the short-term for company investors).

That doesn’t seem to quite be the case at Penguin, which announced a major—and, for now at least, literal restructuring. (I say quite the case because the memo announcing the restructuring, as you can see below, is characterized by a steadfast devotion to the banality that is corporate lingo.) As Penguin President Madeline McIntosh noted in a memo to staffers, “there is too much overlap between their lists and others at Penguin.” The moves made by McIntosh, who became Penguin’s president just four months ago, take aim at this overlap and appear to reduce the number of redundancies at Penguin, to use another word favored by the bland men in ill-fitting suits who laid off your old man back in ’04.

While Gotham Books and Hudson Street Press will be shut down by the end of the year, it appears that their editors will be moved instead of removed—according to Publishers Weekly, they’ll be joining Avery, which “will likely assume publication for most of [their titles].” Former Venguin head Clare Ferraro is leaving the company but there seem to be no other casualties.

You can read McIntosh’s full, very, very long memo below.

January 13, 2015

To Everyone at Penguin Publishing Group:

I am writing you today to announce several major organizational alignments, leadership changes, and promotions within the Penguin Publishing Group. These changes draw upon our existing strengths, as well as the experience of many of our longstanding colleagues, and will position us well for future growth.


Since its beginnings ninety years ago, Viking has been a beacon for award-winning, critically-acclaimed, and commercially-successful fiction and nonfiction. Its publishing leadership across generations has always had a particular flair for bringing great writers together with an enormous readership. To continue that tradition, I have appointed BRIAN TART as Viking’s President and Publisher to succeed Clare Ferraro, effective immediately. Brian is relinquishing his duties as President and Publisher, Dutton, Gotham and Avery.

Clare, currently President, Viking, Plume and Hudson Street Press, will be leaving the company as a result of this change. Her contributions to our company in her thirty-five years of service, and especially to Viking since becoming its leader in 1999, are held in the highest regard by several publishing generations. In particular, she will always have our gratitude for preserving and building on Viking’s history, creating a legacy of literary and financial success of which we can all be proud, and which provides a solid foundation for the imprint’s future growth.

Brian is picking up the baton from Clare after his nine years at the helm of Dutton. During that time, Brian has built the imprint’s success through a great aptitude for deciding what and how to publish, a close and attentive partnership with his authors and their agents, and a collaborative leadership style that brings out the very best in his entire team. In this new role, Brian’s leadership skills and marketplace instincts will ensure that the Viking imprint, and each book it publishes, reaches its maximum potential.

Joining Brian in the move to Viking is ANDREA SCHULZ, in the newly-created position of Vice President, Editor-in-Chief. Andrea comes to us from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where she has overseen their editorial department as Editor-in-Chief, and edited authors such as Paul Theroux, Temple Grandin, Timothy Egan, Elinor Lipman, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Andrea has earned tremendous admiration among fiction and nonfiction writers, agents, and her peers for her editorial acumen, taste, and judgment, and as a supportive manager and mentor.

Andrea will now have the privilege of working directly with our exceptionally gifted Viking editorial team, which includes Wendy Wolf, Vice President, Associate Publisher and Editorial Director for Nonfiction; Paul Slovak, Vice President and Executive Editor; Carole DeSanti, Vice President, Editor at Large; Executive Editors Carolyn Carlson, Joy de Menil, and Rick Kot; Pam Dorman, Vice President and Publisher, Pamela Dorman Books; Allison Lorentzen, Senior Editor; and Melanie Tortoroli, Editor.

Together, they will work to further develop Viking’s author base by nurturing existing talent—which, in 2015, includes returning authors such as Antony Beevor, Geraldine Brooks, Craig Johnson, Jojo Moyes, Stewart O’Nan, Ken Robinson, William Vollmann and Gary Wills—and by attracting the best in new fiction and nonfiction writers.

On the marketing front, I am delighted that KATE STARK, known for her creative, innovative, and very effective marketing leadership for Riverhead and Putnam, will join Viking as Vice President, Associate Publisher, and Director of Marketing. She will continue to perform in the same capacity for Riverhead, while relinquishing her duties at Putnam. Nancy Sheppard, currently Vice President, Marketing Director, Viking, will transition into a new role, detailed below. Carolyn Coleburn will continue as Vice President, Publicity Director, Viking, under Brian.

Penguin Books

Viking’s successful paperback partnership with Penguin Books, under the leadership of Kathryn Court, President and Publisher, will continue as before, with Kathryn continuing to report to me.

John Fagan, Vice President, Director of Marketing, who has been masterfully performing that role for Penguin, Plume, and Hudson Street Press, will now focus solely on Penguin, including Penguin Classics and the Penguin brand. He will help transition Plume’s marketing to its new leadership, detailed below. Penguin’s Academic Sales and Marketing department, under the leadership of Alan Walker, will continue to report to John. John will report to Kathryn.

Putnam and Dutton

With Brian moving to Viking, we are taking the opportunity to align Putnam and Dutton under one overall leader. Each imprint will maintain its distinct identity, lists, and culture, each with separate editorial departments, perspectives, and aptitudes.

IVAN HELD, until now, President, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, will now serve as President, Putnam and Dutton. For these long-successful imprints, Ivan is the ideal colleague to identify and develop the benefits from increased marketplace collaboration. As the leader of Putnam since 2005, Ivan has continued and further evolved the signature Putnam tradition of delivering great reads to the market and great financial results to the authors and to the company. Within Penguin, Ivan is particularly valued as a strong team-builder and a strong mentor, helping to increase the capabilities and confidence of staff across a range of disciplines and experience.

At Dutton, newly reporting to Ivan is BEN SEVIER, Dutton’s Vice President, Editor-in-Chief, who is now promoted to the additional role of Publisher for the imprint. Ben has been an invaluable member of the Dutton team since 2007, respected by colleagues, authors, and agents alike for his proactive, forward-looking approach to achieving success for authors and the house. He will continue to work directly with the fantastic roster of those authors he edits, including Harlan Coben, Tami Hoag, Lisa Gardner, Jonathan Tropper, Linda Fairstein, Mark Owen and Brad Taylor.

CHRISTINE BALL, Vice President, Associate Publisher, Dutton, will now serve the same role for both Putnam and Dutton, overseeing both imprints’ marketing and publicity teams, and reporting to Ivan. During Christine’s tenure at Dutton, the imprint has been recognized by agents, authors, media, and booksellers for its creative, innovative, and outstandingly executed marketing and publicity campaigns. I am delighted that her skills and dedication will now benefit both lists.

Avery, Gotham, and Hudson Street Press

Penguin’s under-the-radar success in the health and wellness space is a strength on which we can build. With that goal in mind, we will be expanding our commitment to Avery’s editorial program, under the leadership of MEGAN NEWMAN, who is being promoted to Vice President, Publisher, Avery Books, and who will now report to me. Megan and her team at Avery have had an excellent track record over the past few years in particular, selectively publishing just the right books, and bringing them to market with intelligence and passion. In this past year, the Avery success has included The Oh, She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon; The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls; and Gutbliss by Dr. Robynne Chutkan, all steady bestsellers.

Newly joining the team is Caroline Sutton, who will now serve as Editor-in-Chief, Avery; Caroline until now led the Hudson Street Press imprint. Also newly joining is Brooke Carey, Editor, formerly at Gotham. Continuing at Avery are Lucia Watson, who is now promoted to Executive Editor, and Lindsay Gordon, now Marketing and Publicity Director.

After the summer 2015 lists, we will discontinue the Gotham and Hudson Street imprints, moving unpublished inventory and existing backlist to join other Penguin imprints, so that each of these titles will have a proper new home within the Group. Both Gotham and Hudson Street have had significant successes since their founding, but today there is too much overlap between their lists and others at Penguin. By concentrating our efforts on our continuing imprints, we will be in the strongest position to acquire, publish, and sell more effectively than before.

Because of this decision, Charlie Conrad, until now Executive Editor at Gotham, will transition his role to join Berkley, reporting to Susan Allison, Vice President, Editorial Director. Charlie’s list through the summer will be overseen by the Avery marketing and publicity team, but, from the fall forward, his strong selection in narrative nonfiction, history, biography, and pop culture will become Berkley publications.

Also as a result of this restructuring, Lauren Marino, Vice President, Editorial Director, Gotham, will be leaving the company. Please join me in thanking her for her accomplishments on behalf of Gotham and Penguin.

Blue Rider and Plume

Home to a wonderfully diverse list of commercially successful and award-winning fiction and nonfiction, Plume will continue under the leadership of Rachel Bressler, Editorial Director. Rachel and the rest of Plume will now join forces with Blue Rider, reporting to David Rosenthal, President and Publisher. Blue Rider and Plume have often been linked informally through their many hard-soft publishing partnerships. Formalizing this relationship will allow them to benefit from a larger-scaled marketing and publicity team under the leadership of Aileen Boyle, who will expand her responsibilities across both imprints as Vice President, Associate Publisher, Director, Marketing and Publicity; the existing Blue Rider and Plume marketing and publicity departments will report to her.

Managing Editorial and Advertising & Promotions Departments

CATHARINE LYNCH, Senior Vice President, Director, Publishing Management, already wears multiple hats within the Penguin Publishing Group, with existing responsibilities that include oversight for two of our three production teams, our digital assets and product development teams, and the managing editorial and copyediting teams for Putnam, Riverhead, Blue Rider, Tarcher, Avery, and Perigee. Her responsibilities will now expand with the added role of Associate Publisher, Penguin Publishing Group, reporting to me.

Newly reporting to Catharine from copyediting and managing editorial are: TORY KLOSE, Vice President, Executive Director of Copyediting, Viking, Penguin Press, and Portfolio; TRICIA CONLEY, Executive Managing Editor, Viking, Penguin Press, and Portfolio; MATT GIARRATANO, Executive Managing Editor, Penguin, Penguin Classics, and Plume; and SUSAN SCHWARTZ, Managing Editor, Dutton.

Rick Nayer, Vice President, Associate Publisher, Berkley, and Patty King, Vice President, Director, Production, Berkley, and Strategic Production Spend Management for the entire company, continue to report directly to Leslie Gelbman.

NANCY SHEPPARD, formerly Vice President, Marketing Director, Viking, will take on a new role as Vice President, Director, Advertising and Promotions, Penguin Publishing Group, reporting to Catharine. She will now oversee the ad-promo teams for all imprints except Berkley and NAL. As our market continues to change, our marketing and sales colleagues’ needs for supporting materials – both digital and physical — have been rapidly evolving. By bringing the departments together under combined leadership, we will continue to provide customized, dedicated support to each imprint, while at the same time creating the opportunity for more benefits of scale, such as efficient process and vendor management. Nancy has brought immense creative flair and excellent execution to Viking’s list over the past fourteen years. I am delighted that her skills will now benefit more of our books and imprints.

Business Development

In every conversation I have had with Penguin’s publishing teams over the past few months, a consistent theme has been their drive to ensure that we evolve ahead of the marketplace. In every category in which we publish, there are new opportunities to consider and new growth-oriented projects to develop, and we all share the challenge of trying to balance work on our future business with the pressing needs of today’s books and market.

It is with this challenge in mind that I am creating a new position for our group. I’m delighted to announce that starting next month, ALLISON DOBSON will join us as Vice President, Director, Business Development and Strategy, Penguin Publishing Group, reporting to me.

Allison has been a crucial executive at Random House, working both at the corporate level and within the Random House Publishing Group, where she has led the development of a wide range of digital projects—across publishing, marketing, and business development. In working with Allison over the past few years, I have come to deeply value her business intelligence, her creative instincts, her roll-up-the-sleeves attitude, and her warm, collegial spirit. I am looking forward to having her help us target areas of growth and investment for our group. I know the Penguin team will enjoy and value working with her as much as I have.

My other excellent publishing direct reports remain as before, with no changes to their portfolios: Leslie Gelbman, President, Berkley/New American Library Publishing Group; John Duff, Vice President, Publisher, Perigee; Joel Fotinos, Vice President, Publisher, Tarcher; Ann Godoff, President & Editor in Chief, Penguin Press; Geoff Kloske, Vice President, Publisher, Riverhead Books; and Adrian Zackheim, President & Publisher, Portfolio, Sentinel and Current.

I realize that our wide-ranging news today is a lot to absorb, but I hope that you will value being able to see the total picture all at once. I am delighted that these changes will provide new opportunities for growth for so many of our existing colleagues, and that they will set us up perfectly to continue to provide the very best service to our authors and readers for years to come.


Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.