Cover Stories: musical chairs; Penguin group; first-time riches; Bill Clinton

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The Independent Culture

Summer in the city, and publishing is usually quiet. This week, however, came an unexpected round of musical chairs. A year into the CEO's job, Victoria Barnsley has finally set about restructuring HarperCollins. Splitting the company into two divisions – broadly characterised as entertainment and information – she has appointed the feisty Amanda Ridout to head the former. Having turned round the ailing Headline in her five years as MD, the diminutive but charismatic Ridout now has one of the most powerful jobs in publishing. Her arrival at Fulham Palace Road means that, in both the London and New York operations, both top jobs are held by women. Masonic handshakes, said to characterise the Eddie Bell era, are definitely out. A mere man, Thomas Webster, is coming from Oxford to preside over the information division.

* In a week of refocusing, the Penguin Group – now happily ensconced in Shell-Mex House by the Thames – has also made some bloodless changes. Among them, wunderkind Tom Weldon, whose authors have included Gerry Adams, Jamie Oliver and Posh Spice, becomes Managing Director of Penguin General, while Louise Moore, responsible for the success of such money-spinners as Marian Keyes, becomes Publishing Director of Michael Joseph.

* Another first-time author struck it rich this week, bagging around £300,000 from HarperCollins for a trilogy based on the life of Julius Caesar. Conn Iggulden teaches English; it was his cover for a colleague in the history department that inspired him to write. He sent the first volume to the agent AM Heath, where it was plucked from the slush pile. Great things are expected, but Iggulden has no intention of giving up the day job.

* Now that he's wowed 'em in the aisles at Hay, it seems that Bill Clinton's thoughts are returning to his memoirs. After fevered speculation earlier this year, all went quiet after Hillary's mega-deal and questions about what the couple packed in their removal van. New York publishing is abuzz again with rumours that Random House is to pay c$8m for one volume. Random House UK wouldn't automatically get in on the act, but CEO Gail Rebuck's hubby, Philip Gould, did help out on Clinton's two election campaigns.

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