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Knopf, Black Wednesday, and More Publishing Struggles

Seems like every day there’s more bad publishing news . . . Yesterday was declared Black Wednesday by Media Bistro as Random House restructured, essentially consolidating within themselves, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s publisher Becky Saletan abruptly resigned, HMH fired executive editor Ann Patty along with “a lot of others,” and Simon & Schuster cut 35 positions across the company.

Lots of people have lots of comments about all these goings on and what this means for the future of corporate publishing (Sonny Mehta is now the publisher of Dan Brown, which is just insane), but the one observation I like best is from Moby Lives:

Interesting literary snob talking point for after the dust settles: In his detailing of what he thinks will be the impact of these changes, Dohle says that, among other things, “The Knopf Publishing Group will augment its enduring reputation as a leading publisher of quality nonfiction and literary fiction—and now some of the biggest names in fiction—with the addition of the flagship Doubleday and Nan A. Talese Books imprints.” In other words, Dohle makes something else clear in his letter: a distinction between “literary fiction” and “fiction.”

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In good news for Knopf, post-restructuring, they have nine books on the New York Times Best 10 Books of the Year list (seven from Knopf, one from Pantheon and one from Doubleday). The only non-Knopf book to make the list is Bolano’s 2666, which will most likely appear on every “year’s best” list in the country.

I promise that our long (and eventually short) list of international fiction will be from more than 1 publisher . . .



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