Cover Stories: World Book Day; HarperCollins; Christopher Potter
Friday 25 February 2005
World Book Day on 3 March will see the publication of New Beginnings, a collection of first chapters of the new works by superstars such as Stephen King, Nick Hornby, Maeve Binchy and Mark Haddon. Published by Bloomsbury at £5, this rare glimpse of the next big things will raise money for those affected by the Asian tsunami. All proceeds from the book, brainchild of agent Jonny Geller, will go to post-tsunami projects, with an emphasis on educational initiatives such as Unesco's "school in a box" kit. The aim is to sell over 500,000 copies.
* After months of rumours about tensions at the top of Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins, the announcement of a mini-restructure by CEO Victoria Barnsley has produced as many questions as answers. A new literary division within the group will embrace HarperPress, HarperPerennial and Fourth Estate, with Caroline Michel (until now MD of Harper Press) as its publisher. Despite the spin (Barnsley promises "more focus and resource" on literary publishing), both Michel and former group sales director John Bond, who becomes MD of the new division, now have less responsibility. So, too, Amanda Ridout, whose HarperCollins General has suffered an amputation. Some observers might conclude that this sticking-plaster solution is mainly designed to keep rival chieftains well away from one another.
* HarperCollins was also coy about the departure of Christopher Potter, whose purchase of Dava Sobel's Longitude and of Carol Shields put Fourth Estate on the map when the firm was still an independent. He divided his time between London and New York, but it was announced earlier that there will now be no Fourth Estate operation in the US.
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