Media: The Literator: Inside Publishing - Proffitt motive

Last week's announcement that Stuart Proffitt has resigned from his post at HarperCollins, following Rupert Murdoch's decision that his company would not publish a book that might jeopardise his Chinese interests, finally brought to an end weeks of speculation as to why the publishing director was "working at home" and couldn't come to the phone "for legal reasons". Colleagues had been intrigued and speculation soon spread beyond the security gates at HarperCollins's Hammersmith offices.

Resignation on a point of principle will do Proffitt no harm at all, but there will be a great many colleagues, past and present, who will allow themselves a moment or two of pleasure at the spectacle of his fall from grace, because Proffitt is respected rather than liked.

Though described as "gentlemanly", he does not always conform to that description. Certainly the girlfriend who left HarperCollins for another publisher after her relationship with Proffitt ended would not see him that way. In addition, he is an assiduous guardian of his turf, alert to even the slightest suggestion of encroachment, and when Malcolm Edwards, the former HarperCollins fiction publisher who quit last year, was given additional management responsibilities and a new title, Proffitt had to be placated with a similar title, though his status changed not one iota. Indeed, one rumoured cause of his recent absence was his objection to the promotion of Nick Sayers in the reshuffle that followed Edwards's departure.

Beyond the headlines is Proffitt himself, a curious anachronism who looks as though he would be at home in a novel by Waugh or Wodehouse. At 36, he looks and acts much older, and as his profile increased with the acquisition of Lady Thatcher he took to wearing foppish velvet suits.

Whither Proffitt now? Certainly, the Penguin Group could do with a high- profile non-fiction publisher. So, too, Macmillan. But there are a limited number of openings and, if money is a priority, few publishers will be able to match his HarperCollins salary. However, hire Proffitt and it's likely that you gain at least some of his authors. It is not yet clear whether John Major will want to follow him and, if he does, how many publishers would feel it worth stumping up the pounds 1m-plus required to buy him out of his HarperCollins contract? Things could get very interesting.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test