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Posts Tagged ‘Random House UK’

Britain Finally Embraces the Graphic Novel

Other countries, most notably America and France, may have embraced the graphic novel format and lauded several notable titles with praise, but as the New York Times’ Tara Mulholland reports, Britain was a little slower to catch on to the form. “On the Continent graphic novels have been as accepted as films or books for many years,” said the author Raymond Briggs in a 2005 interview with the newspaper The Observer, “but England has had a snobby attitude towards them. They’ve always been seen as something just for children.”

But the success of Briggs’ ETHEL & ERNEST, not to mention Chris Ware‘s surprise win of the Guardian First Book Award, has had publishers snapping up would-be graphic novel stars. Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Random House UK, has more than tripled its graphic novel output over the past year, publishing nine new titles since July 2006. Dan Franklin, Cape’s publishing director, said he hoped to increase this number. “When we started about nine years ago with ETHEL AND ERNEST I said that we wouldn’t do more than one a year,” he said. “And they’ve been so successful that I am now doing potentially up to 12 a year, if I can find them.”

Other publishers have hopped on the bandwagon and sales are on the rise. Michael Rowley, the graphic-novel buyer for Waterstone’s, Britain’s largest bookshop chain, said sales of the books had increased 41 percent in the last year alone. S what is behind this sudden wave of enthusiasm for a genre that has previously been sidelined in Britain, wonders Mulholland? For Paul Gravett, the author of GREAT BRITISH COMICS and one of the country’s foremost promoter of graphic novels, one of the primary reasons is simply the creation of the “graphic novel” category. “The word comics is laden with so many negative connotations, while the words ‘graphic novel’ give it a certain cachet,” he said.

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Dolby’s Imprint at Random House UK is Named

The Bookseller reports that Trevor Dolby and Rosie de Courcy‘s new imprint at Random House UK has been named Preface Publishing. The announcement comes simultaneously with the launch of the imprint’s Spring 2008 list, comprising A POINT OF VIEW by Lisa Jardine and THE CLEANER by Brett Battles (a debut spy thriller published this month by Bantam Dell.) Dolby, formerly publisher at HarperCollins, joined Random House in April to set up Preface as a new list straddling non-fiction and fiction. “I am delighted that Preface has developed at such a fast pace since its inception in April,” he said. “It is very exciting to be able to formally name the imprint and give it a strong identity.” De Courcy joined the company as publishing director in March.

Random House UK’s Promised Patterson Blitz

On Monday, Random House UK hosted James Patterson (situated at left with company CEO Gail Rebuck) at Sketch, reports Booktrade.info, where the company first held a conference day at the venue, outlining sales plans to staffers and the trade. Customers got to meet the author in the evening. And while Patterson was in London the company also arranged for him to do a photo shoot with Rankin, the results of which will be revealed in due course.

The Bookseller was at the presentation, too
, and report that Patterson will nearly double his annual output to eight books a year when he moves to the Random House next February, adding non-fiction, a graphic novel and more romance and teen fiction to his mainstay of thrillers. CHA marketing director Claire Round said the company will treat every Patterson launch “as if it were a major Hollywood release”, and has appointed a full-time brand specialist to manage the Patterson oeuvre. Each standalone thriller will be backed by prime-time television advertising. Further branding plans are in place for a new teen series, titled Jack X, the Michael Bennett series co-authored with Michael Ledwidge, and his existing series. “We felt strongly – sorry Headline – that the package could be evolved to bring in some new readers without alienating the current ones,” Round concluded.

Transworld Launches Ireland Division

Transworld, a subsidiary of Random House UK, announced today that it is setting up a new subsidiary company, Transworld Ireland, which will publish its first list in 2008. Eoin McHugh, currently Head of Book Purchasing at Eason & Son Ltd, has been appointed Publisher. McHugh will report to Transworld’s Senior Publishing Director, Francesca Liversidge, and will join the company in September. “We have enjoyed great success in Ireland and I’m thrilled to be making this commitment to major growth for Transworld in what is an exciting and vibrant market,” said Transworld m.d. Larry Finlay. “The time is right to develop our Irish publishing programme, particularly in non-fiction and the best way to do this is to establish an editorial presence in Ireland.”

“I’ve been very fortunate over the last number of years to have worked with a wonderfully professional team at Eason,” added McHugh. “The exciting opportunity, however, of joining Transworld Ireland in this new and challenging venture has been impossible to resist. I am delighted to have been offered this position and look forward to working with former and future colleagues in seeking to make it a great success.”

Sansom Named Communications Director for Random House UK

Random House UK announced in a press release yesterday that Rachael Sansom has been appointed as Group Communications Director, effective July 23. Sansom, previously a Board Director and Partner at London based PR agency Consolidated Communications and Director of Communications, Europe for Motorola, will oversee all aspects of communications for the Random House Group, to include information on the Group’s many corporate responsibility initiatives, its long-term digital plans, corporate affairs and internal communication including the launch of the ouRHouse intranet.

“We were overwhelmed by the high calibre of candidates we saw in our search for a new Communications Director and I am delighted that Rachael is joining us,” said Random House UK CEO Gail Rebuck. “Her strong communications background and her extensive knowledge of the media sector, make her the ideal candidate.” Added Sansom: “Publishing is a dynamic industry and The Random House Group in particular is a diverse and fast moving organisation. I very much look forward to joining the team at Random House and the challenges it will bring.”

Random House UK Buys Virgin Books

Booktrade.info reports that Random House UK has acquired a 90 per cent stake in Virgin Books in a deal which gives the company worldwide use of the Virgin brand in the field of book, audio and digital publishing. In a separate agreement, Sir Richard Branson will also write five new books for Virgin Books. The company will remain in their Hammersmith offices and continue to be led by KT Forster who will now report to board director Richard Cable. “Virgin Books is a great addition to the Random House group of companies and I look forward to working with KT and the Virgin team to develop the hugely valuable brand,” Cable said in the announcement. “We have very ambitious plans and we can look forward to a period of stability and investment on which we to build a formidable worldwide publishing company.”

Surprise Books for Harris, Faulks

Publishing News reports that Hutchinson, an imprint of Random House UK, is pleasantly surprised by the news that both Robert Harris and Sebastian Faulks will be delivering unexpected books. In Harris’s case, that’s because he was set to write the sequel to last year’s Roman historical IMPERIUM, but instead has submitted a contemporary espionage novel, GHOST, slated for publication in October.

Caroline Gascoigne, who took over as Publishing Director of Hutchinson last autumn, told PN:”This book’s been at the back of his mind for a while and he’s decided to write it now, which is welcome news. It’s about a ghostwriter for a politician who meets his subject out of season on Martha’s Vineyard where the drama begins to unfold. It’s a political thriller with all the Harris trademarks and represents an exciting addition to our publishing plans.”

As for Faulks, his new novel, ENGELBY, will be out this May and is already getting good reaction from the sales force and booksellers. “He’s not a book a year author so to have this so rapidly is an enormous bonus,” Gasocigne said, adding: “It’s fantastic beginner’s luck for me to have two of our great writers produce these books for publication this year.”

Random House UK CEO Talks of Tough Markets

Publishing News reports on Random House UK CEO Gail Rebuck‘s recent “state of the union” address to around 40 literary agents in the Random House boardroom last Friday, spelling out just how tough the market is for all publishers – and how her group is investing heavily in areas such as digitization to prepare itself for the future. “Her analysis of the state of the industry was very good, very cogent,” said one agent. For another, it was “brave and frank”. The message was clear: it’s not getting any easier out there. Publishers’ share of the trade is shrinking while at the same time discounts are rising. There has been conglomeration among retailers and wholesalers (EUK’s takeover of Bertrams was mentioned) and the pressure on all publishers remains intense. “They’re saying something has to give,” was one (somewhat obvious) assessment afterwards.

While Rebuck wouldn’t comment directly to PN about the meetings – which another agent felt might be a bid to “soften them up” for hard news about advances and royalties – she did offer this statement: “The pace of change is so fast in our industry that it is unlikely most publishers can truly say they are fully briefed on all the issues at any given time. It is even more difficult for agents who do not necessarily have the same flow of daily information. The Random House Group briefings are an opportunity for us to share our strategic aims with a most important constituency.”

The Everyman’s Library Turns 100

everyman.gifThe Wall Street Journal’s Tom Nolan focuses attention on the centenary of the Everyman’s Library, founded in 1906 by bookbinder-turned-publisher Joseph Malaby Dent to preserve great works of literature. The books found a fan in Knopf editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta, who read them while growing up in post-colonial India. “They were cheap, they were accessible, one found them in bookstores,” said Mehta. “If you were given books as gifts, they tended to be Everyman’s…..A lot of my early reading with classics — though one didn’t even know they were classics, I mean whether it was Dumas or Jules Verne or anything else — that’s what they tended to be.”

Which is why, as competitors like the Library of America and Modern Library encroached the market and paperbacks made classics even cheaper, Everyman’s fell into the hands of UK publisher Tom Campbell in 1990 – who needed an American partner, which turned out to be Mehta. A revived line, with an initial 46 titles (Austen to Zola), was debuted by Random House UK and Knopf in the U.S. in 1991. Since then, the Everyman’s Library — with old and new incarnations celebrating a combined 100th anniversary in the year just completed — has done 500 titles and sold 12 million books.

One avowed fan is Joan Didion, whose seven volumes of non-fiction were recently collected in the Everyman’s edition WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES IN ORDER TO LIVE. “I don’t know if you remember what it was like,” the California-born writer asked recently by telephone from New York, “to first have a book in your hand, whenever it was that you first bought a book? A whole lot of [its appeal] had to do with the way it looked and felt. I remember very distinctly: Somebody gave me a merchandise award at a bookstore in Sacramento, and I bought a Modern Library of Emily Dickinson and the collected poems of T.S. Eliot. And the Eliot had a smooth yellow cover; and the Emily Dickinson had sort of a classic Modern Library cover…pink and gray and black. I mean, it was the physical appearance of these books that meant a whole lot to me, then.”