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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Ross’

Steve Ross to Direct Abrams Artists Agency Book Division

aaa23.jpgSteve Ross, the former president of HarperCollins’ Collins Division, has been named the director of the brand new book division of Abrams Artists Agency.

Before working at Collins, Ross served as publisher of Random House’s Crown Division. In this new post, the former publisher will help expand the agency’s work in publishing and literary deal-making. In addition, Ross will lead Abrams Author Services, a consulting service for writers.

Abrams’ founder and CEO Harry Abrams had this statement: “We are delighted that Steve will be joining the Abrams Artists team and helping us to grow into new areas … We had been contemplating a serious move into book and author representation, and Steve’s track record and understanding of the swiftly changing dynamics of the book industry make him an ideal fit.”

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Former Collins President Switches to Blogging

huffpologo.jpgSteve Ross, the former president of president of HarperCollins’ now shuttered Collins Division, has found a new calling as a regular blogger at The Huffington Post. It’s been a literary week at HuffPo–Arianna Huffington just announced that she will lead a book club and launch a books section on her popular website.

Ross earned his creative writing MFA at New York University, and tested his writing chops with a piece of black comedy. Out of all the topics this award-winning editor and publisher could choose for his first post, Ross wrote about fashion. His satirical piece looks at New York City’s Fashion Week during a recession that has hobbled every industry, from fashion to publishing.

Here’s on fantastical riff from his inaugural post: “In keeping with the theme of this season’s [Fasihon] Expo — ‘Donations: Past and Present’ — the audience of fashionistas and former financiers paid tribute to this year’s movers and shakers in Downturn Fashion. Anna Wintour, her sunglasses dangling a Duane Reade price tag, welcomed Ben Bernanke, who brandished a bandolier of bailout funds strewn in an X across his hirsute chest.”

Yes, Virginia, Harry Potter Changed the Publishing Industry

As sales of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS climb enough to sell out its first printing – prompting Scholastic to up the number of copies in print to 14 million – AP’s Hillel Italie asks a slew of publishing movers and shakers how Harry Potter has changed the industry. First, no book could have possibly sold this quickly. “With Potter, you have almost a perfect storm of events,” said Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins, a division of HarperCollins. “You have changes in technology and capacity, the synergy that worked so effectively between the books and the movies, and, most importantly…they were books of startling quality.”

Doubleday Broadway president and publisher Steve Rubin credits Potter for changing the way the imprint will market the next book by Dan Brown. “I surely would hesitate before trying to do something like 12 million copies…but thanks largely to Potter, we can think about numbers we wouldn’t have imagined before.” Other ways Harry Potter changed and was changed: fewer distribution hubs causing more efficient delivery patterns; better technology enabling email use for manuscript delivery, supply and demand updates and communication; and a blockbuster mentality helped by the movies. “It wasn’t conceivable for a hardcover book to have that kind of sales, even for a book as sought after as Jaws,” said Random House spokesperson Stuart Appelbaum. “At that time, the mass market paperback was the format for multimillion sellers. But mass merchandisers weren’t selling as many books, and at the same velocity, as they do today.”

Steve Ross’s Plans for Collins

With longtime Crown VP and publisher Steve Ross‘s move to Collins now complete, Crain’s decides to profile him and his plans for the business side of HarperCollins. There, he will be tasked with turning a sleepy nonfiction division, mainly known for wellness, business and reference books, into a powerhouse. Though already profitable and sporting current best seller THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS, the house is rarely on agents’ lists for high-profile projects or works of narrative nonfiction.

“What we liked about Steve was that he had a terrific track record, both in terms of picking best sellers and in terms of building a profitable publishing company,” says Brian Murray, president of HarperCollins worldwide. Murray adds that figuring out where Collins should be in five years will be a big part of the new publisher’s job – and all eyes will be watching to see how Ross will go about doing that.

Who Spiked the Water at 1745 Broadway?

It’s been a very strange week for the world’s largest publishing company. First we had Wednesday’s surprise announcement that Crown svp and publisher Steve Ross would be moving to Collins, with Tina Constable stepping in to take his place. Now comes last night’s announcement that Daniel Menaker was jumping ship from Random House‘s eponymous imprint, though it remains to be seen if the party line that the decision was “absolutely mutual” will hold up under scrutiny.

Maybe it’s because the current edition of Publishing Revolving Door takes me on a time warp all the way back to 2003 – ancient history for some, but important history nonetheless. Menaker, after 26 years at the New Yorker, first joined Random House in 1995 and continued uninterrupted there save for a sixteen-month stint at HarperCollins, which ended in 2003. The company he returned to was not the company he left behind. They had moved to sleek new offices in an office condominium between 55th and 56th streets; Ann Godoff was gone in one of the most publicized oustings in recent memory; Little Random had been absorbed in the same umbrella containing Ballantine and its holdings; and at the center of the new-look imprint was, and still is, president and publisher Gina Centrello. Taken together, these were clear signs of the company’s increasingly commercial shift that would play out in a major way over the next four-plus years. And yet Menaker was hired to give Little Random a distinct literary bent, which he did in the form of novelists Benjamin Kunkel, Arthur Phillips, Gary Shteyngart and Jon Clinch as well as former poet laureate Billy Collins, even if said acquisitions didn’t necessarily pay off in terms of sales.

No matter how much Menaker, Centrello and the Random House brass want to downplay the bottom line, it’s difficult to play by their rules in light of the company’s most recent shakeups – not to mention their gutting of the sales force, Bertelsmann‘s attempts to patch up the mothership after getting scared straight by former minority shareholder GBL’s threats to take their holdings public (Bookspan, anyone?) and a downturn in profits. All of which has to make one wonder about the overall health of Random House – and if more “unexpected” news is just lurking around the corner.

Constable Succeeds Ross as Crown VP and Publisher

Instead of waiting weeks and weeks for speculation to mount on who would replace Steve Ross, Crown has gone ahead and announced his replacement right away – and they are promoting within. Publishers Marketplace reports that Tina Constable will take over as vp and publisher of Crown and Crown Business and Crown Forum in July 1. She has been executive director of publicity (a successor will be hired for that position.) At the same time, director of marketing Philip Patrick will add responsibilities as vp and publisher of Three Rivers Press and publisher of e-books and digital content for the Crown Publishing Group.

Steve Ross Leaves Crown to Run Collins

We were forwarded the news with the subject header “HOLY MOTHERFREAKING POOP” and that pretty much sums up my reaction to the news that Crown Senior Vice President and Publisher Steve Ross has been hired as president and publisher of their Collins division, reporting to Brian Murray and starting in July. He replaces Joe Tessitore, who is retiring from the position this summer. Murray says in the announcement, “The combination of Steve’s publishing acumen, business savvy and experience is ideally suited to lead Collins to the next level. I look forward to working closely with Steve to build Collins into a market leader in non-fiction publishing and to identify new areas of growth for the company.”

When Being Dooced Is Only One Side of the Story

Sometimes, even us freewheeling bloggers like to exercise a little restraint. Because reporting on publishing people getting fired for what’s clearly a case of going overboard on a small matter is, frankly, not the best use of our time and resources. But since Gawker‘s now gone ahead and presented their (extremely flawed) version of Jason Pinter‘s abrupt exit from Crown, it seems like a good idea to present a more well-rounded, if still somewhat unattributed account of what precipitated this event.

First, the obligatory disclosure: I count Pinter as a friend, someone who bought another friend’s book and has also written a seriously kickass debut thriller that is (deservedly) receiving a good deal of pre-publication buzz. So much for objectivity, but don’t take my word for it, see what agent Kristin Nelson said (albeit without mentioning Pinter specifically by name) late last week: “it’s so sad when I get the news of a departure. Someone I liked. Enjoyed working with. Knew their tastes and what would work for them. Now I’ll have to scout out whoever fills their shoes. See who gets added to the dance card.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. When reached for comment, Crown publicity director Tina Constable would only say that Pinter is no longer with the company and had no further comments, but Gawker is correct that Pinter’s termination resulted from the now-deleted blog post comparing and contrasting Chris Bohjalian‘s B&N-related success to Ishmael Beah‘s Starbucks-induced sales. Sources indicate that Crown publisher and senior vice president Steve Ross ordered Pinter to take the post down on February 23, which he did. A week later, without any warning or any indication that there would be further action taken, Pinter was informed he had violated Random House’s blog policy and had one day – last Friday, March 2 – to collect his things, inform his authors that he would no longer be working with Crown and absorb what had just happened.

Sources indicate that Pinter’s termination was not an easy decision, as a visibly upset Ross, as well as publisher Jenny Frost, were forced to do so at the behest of more senior Random House brass. Such sentiments are understandable considering the post in question never even made mention of Bookscan numbers – that was added in later, by me, after checking with additional sources. And from what I understand, access to Bookscan is hardly proprietary information – it’s not like actual Random House sales figures were being bandied about or, in the last publicized case of an employee fired for blogging, actual criticism of Random House employees was made public.

If anything, Pinter’s firing has less to do with him and more to do with his now-former company’s woes. Laying off the bulk of their sales force and then openly lying about it? Getting rid of an editor here, a small department there and scrambling to do something, anything to compensate for not just a bad year, but Bertelsmann‘s overall shortfall thanks to buying back the 25 percent stake that a minority shareholder wanted to take public? In short, this is a classic case of corporate publishing at its cowardly worst, taking a passive-aggressive action that may cover their ass in the short term, but adds yet more grist to the public relations disaster mill in the long term.

So yes, GalleyCat wishes Pinter well. He has a book to promote soon, another due out in February and a third to write under contract, with more in the future. There are job offers to consider and options to mull over. Indeed, rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated. And if anything, drinks are on us, not the other way around…

Robison Inks Deal for Asperger Memoir

John Robison is known in one sphere as the guy who helped KISS concoct their stadium show in the 1970s, customizing guitars to shoot smoke bombs and flames. He’s also the older brother of notorious memoirist Augusten Burroughs. The cred combination may well have helped him land a book deal with Crown for a memoir about his lifelong struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome, the New York Post‘s Keith Kelly reports. The $1.1 million dollar figure is, well, classic New York Post dollars money, but he does get a revealing quote from editor-in-chief Steve Ross. “We pre-empted the book about two hours after we saw the manuscript,” he said about the “darkly comic” proposal. The book is slated to hit stores this fall.