In the first sign of Houghton Mifflin‘s plans after buying Harcourt earlier this month, the company announced that it had hired Henry Holt executive editor George Hodgman as the vice-president and senior executive editor of the adult trade editorial group. Hodgman’s eye for narrative nonfiction is highly respected in the biz; his picks at Holt included Kevin Boyle‘s award-winning Arc of Justice and Mockingbird, Charles J. Shields‘ bio of Harper Lee. His resume also includes lengthy stints at Simon & Schuster and Vanity Fair.
In a 2005 interview with mediabistro.com, Hodgman explained his approach to buying nonfiction: “I like big characters and—this sounds incredibly pretentious—but things that reflect some human spiritâ€”perseverance, desire, imagination. I like writerly journalists who can render character, detail, and place beyond ‘just the facts’ and who are narrative-oriented.” The interview also offers a possible hint as to how he’ll run his new department come September. “It’s all going too fast,” he warns. “Corporate-think means ‘Get it out for Christmas’ or whatever. Business types don’t really think editing matters. They can’t tell the difference so they don’t think readers can. I say, why spend so much money and not take the time to actually get it right?”