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Warners books publishing vet

Karp No. 1 at WB's Twelve

NEW YORK — Jonathan Karp, who suddenly ankled his post at Random House in June, has signed on to launch a new imprint at Time Warner.

Karp, who acquired Laura Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit,” Robert Kurson’s “Shadow Divers” and Susan Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief,” will launch a boutique imprint that will, among other things, mine the conglom’s magazine and entertainment units for ideas and potential projects.

Imprint Warner Twelve will publish no more than 12 books a year, a leisurely pace in book publishing that will allow Karp to personally edit each work and oversee the marketing in a bid to cut through the clutter of the 200,000-odd books published each year.

“The editor is the first enthusiast, the confidant and the activist; this is the chance to implement the hopes for every book that I sign up,” Karp told Daily Variety.

Part of the Warner Twelve mandate is to scour the magazine and entertainment offerings of Time Warner — from Fortune and Sports Illustrated to HBO and Warner Bros. — to find projects that lend themselves to books as well as find projects that can be made into movies and TV shows for Warner Entertainment.

Karp has a strong track record of books that translate into films: Aside from “Seabiscuit” and “Adaptation,” Karp produced “Matchstick Men” and has “Shadow Divers” in development at 20th Century Fox, “Sleeping With Schubert” at Paramount and “Masters of Doom” at Showtime.

“He clearly has a very good feel for stories that translate into film, especially journalistic nonfiction,” Warner Books publisher Jamie Rabb said.

Karp, 41, started his career at Random House in 1989 as an editorial assistant and established himself as a deft spotter of narrative nonfiction. He rocketed to the top of the world’s largest publisher, becoming editor in chief of Random House and smaller imprint Villiard a little more than a year ago.

But Karp had long wanted to get involved in the publishing of books, creating the campaigns that help them reach their audience. When he left Random House, Rabb contacted Karp; he pitched her the 12-book concept.

“I loved the idea and his vision; it just clicked,” she said.

Rabb said the Warner Twelve list will debut in spring 2007 along with the publication of the imprint’s first book.

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