New editor hopes to shake up mag

NEW YORK — Publishers Weekly on Monday tapped New York Post publishing columnist Sara Nelson as editor-in-chief in a bid to revitalize the 133-year-old trade pub.

Nelson replaces current editor and former librarian Nora Rawlinson, who had helmed the magazine since 1992.

“I’ve been reading it for 20 years,” said Nelson. “I want to see how it can be modernized but still keep its seriousness about the business.”

Nelson, who also has worked as a columnist at the New York Observer and as an editor at Glamour and Inside.com, said she plans to bring a journalistic sensibility to the magazine and the Web site and that she plans to break news.

“It has tremendous credibility in the marketplace. What we need to do is make it livelier,” she said.

Publishers Weekly has been hurt in recent years by a soft book market that has strained the budgets of major U.S. publishers.

Book sales in the last quarter were especially sluggish, with adult hardcover sales in October falling 17.1% from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, consolidation in both publishing and retail has diminished the pool of advertisers for PW and other outlets covering the book world.

“More books are being published, but fewer are being read,” said publisher William McGorry. “The pressures on booksellers make it a challenging economic climate. Our role is to address those issues and invite perspective from the industry.”

Publishers Weekly, with a paid circulation of 24,000, also is facing new competition from VNU, which owns book retail tracking service Nielsen BookScan and pre-publication review outlet Kirkus Reviews and is launching online news service Thebookstandard.com.

Publishers Weekly is part of the media division of Reed Business Information, which includes book publishing trade outlets Criticas magazine, Library Journal and School Library Journal, as well as Variety and Daily Variety.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more