Media: Inside publishing-Bell rings the changes

The Literator
Sunday 05 October 1997 23:02

HarperCollins has once again restructured - for the absolutely last and final time, promises chief executive Eddie Bell, the Glasgow bruiser who began his career selling Pink Ladies and now sells mostly blue ones in the form of Lady T and Norma M. His fall has been predicted for so many years now that it's boring even to him and, let's face it, he's seen off more than one American CEO.

Last week, Anthea Disney, brought in from elsewhere in Murdoch's empire to sort out the troubled books business, has been kicked upstairs to become CEO of the newly-merged book, magazine and on-line publishing division, to be known henceforth as the News America Publishing Group. Insiders believe that's been the plan all along and that Murdoch intended that she have only a short stay in book publishing in order to learn the business.

From on high, Disney has expressed full confidence in Bell and, while that could be bracketed with Thatcher's comment that Nigel Lawson was unassailable, it does seem that the doughty Glaswegian is safe enough. Last week, as he announced 14 job losses, the last in a five-year purge, he said that `last year was my worst in publishing. 1997-8 could well be my best'. Only time will tell.

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