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Random restructures

Dell prexy ankles publisher

NEW YORK — In a move designed to focus marketing efforts for several of its highest profile imprints, Random House is committing to a large-scale restructuring which will shift six imprints — Bantam Books, Dell Publishing, Doubleday, Broadway Books, Vintage Books and Anchor Books — into three new publishing entities: the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group and the Vintage Anchor Publishing Division, respectively.

The move will eliminate Carole Baron’s post of Dell president and publisher, which she held for 18 years, as well as the prexy and publisher position at Broadway, a job vacant since William Shinker resigned two weeks ago (Daily Variety, 5/14).

Baron ankles

Baron elected to leave the company rather than take any position within Random House other than that of publisher of an imprint, according to sources within the company.

Once Random House CEO Peter Olson upped Bantam Books prexy and publisher Irwyn Applebaum to head of the Bantam Dell Group, there were no such positions available.

Ironically, Baron’s job was eliminated following her delivery of one of Random House’s most anticipated books, “Hannibal,” Thomas Harris’ sequel to “Silence of the Lambs.”

“I am leaving Dell with great pride about what I have done here and am now firmly focused on the future,” Baron said.

Separate, sort of

Olson declared that while the imprints will share business services, such as marketing and advertising within the new publishing groups, the individual imprints will retain their own separate editorial staffs and identities — a claim that many observers in the publishing industry doubt.

Despite the elimination of two positions, Olson said that the restructuring will not, as many in publishing circles fear, mandate a further reduction in staff or number of titles. Any decisions to cut back or increase the number of titles or staff members will be made by the individual group heads.

“not cost-driven”

The restructuring “was not a cost driven issue,” Olson told Daily Variety. “It was a matter of using our resources for maximum effectiveness within a changing marketplace.”

Not surprisingly, industry observers saw it differently.

“This was a question of cutting costs,” said a leading lit agent, who has several clients with books at the affected imprints. “Further consolidation is not good for the business. Bertelsmann is making a great mistake by not finding a place for Carole Baron, who has been one of the most highly respected publishers in the industry.”

Other observers concur with the agent’s suspicion that Dell and Broadway, the two imprints without their own publishers, will be hard pressed to retain their own identity while sharing publishers with Bantam and Doubleday, respectively.

It’s big

What is certain is that the new Bantam Dell Publishing Group will be one of the largest mass market publishing groups. It will include Bantam, Delacorte Press and Dial Press hardcovers; Bantam, Delta and DTP trade paperbacks; and Bantam, Dell and Island mass market paperbacks.

Olson expects the unification of the publishing group will particularly help the mass market paperbacks command better placement in the marketplace.

While Applebaum tops the Bantam Dell Group, Doubleday prexy and publisher Steve Rubin will be upped to head the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group.

Broadway Books editor-in-chief Bob Asahina and Doubleday editor-in-chief William Thomas will both report directly to Rubin.

Meanwhile, to create the Vintage Anchor Publishing Division, the Bertelsmann-owned company will move Anchor from the Doubleday group to the Knopf Publishing Group, of which Vintage has been a part.

Anchor and Vintage are two of the company’s bestselling trade paperback imprints, and Olson hopes the new division will be unparalleled in the trade paperback marketplace, which he sees as a growth market.

Sonny Mehta is president of the Knopf Publishing Group. Vintage editor-in-chief Marty Asher will continue to report to him while former Anchor head Gerald Howard will stay at Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group in the new position of executive editor, and will be acquiring titles for both imprints.

Mehta is expected to announce a new Anchor topper in the near future.

Applebaum, Rubin and Mehta will report to Olson.