'Potter' publishing wizard promoted

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The Independent Online

Bloomsbury Publishing yesterday announced it has given a position on its board to the woman who brought the tales of the child wizard Harry Potter to millions of readers.

Sarah Odedina joined Bloomsbury as editorial director for children's books in January 1997, the year in which the first Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published.

The Potter books have since become some of the most widely-read children's books ever, selling 120 million copies worldwide and minting Bloomsbury millions. The book's success means it now accounts for about half of Bloomsbury's revenues and slightly more than half its profits.

Ms Odedina was also responsible for taking on the children's titles Holes and Witch Child, both of which made the children's bestsellers' list of the top 20 books when they were published last year.

Ms Odedina began her publishing career as a literary agent in 1988 before moving to Penguin and then to the children's publisher Watts Publishing.

Bloomsbury said that Ms Odedina's elevation to become an executive director was a response to her dramatic boost to the company's children's fiction department and because the publisher wants to expand this area over the next few years.

Bloomsbury also announced it was appointing Michael Mayer, a Californian venture capitalist and president of Berkeley International Capital, as a non-executive director.

Nigel Newton, chairman of Bloomsbury, said: "Both children's publishing and US expansion are key areas of development." The company aims to publish 60 new children's titles in America this year and to expand the proportion of its turnover coming from the US from its current level of 9 per cent. The company's shares fell 6p to 804p.

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