Penguin General managing director Joanna Prior has been named the new CEO of Pan Macmillan UK, succeeding Anthony Forbes Watson, who will step down from the role early next year, the Bookseller reported. Forbes Watson will become an adviser to Stefan von Holtzbrinck and the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, Pan Macmillan's owner.
"I have spent 23 incredibly happy years at Penguin, first in publicity and marketing roles and for the past 12 leading the remarkable team at Penguin General," said Prior. "The decision to leave was not an easy one but Pan Macmillan is a company I've always admired; it is, in fact, where I had my first permanent job in publishing. The offer to lead a business of this size and reputation, with a commitment to publishing the very best books of all kinds, is something that was irresistible. We have all seen just how important books are to culture and society over the last difficult year and a half, and I'm honored to take up this role to lead Pan Macmillan in the next phase of its growth and success."
Macmillan CEO Don Weisberg said Prior's "reputation as an industry trailblazer is far-reaching. Her blend of creative talent and commercial acumen is evident in the successes at Penguin General. She is results-driven and ambitious for the books and authors while having a reputation for being a leader who is inclusive and mission-focused. I am looking forward to working with her as she joins, as its leader, Pan Macmillan's formidable team."
Pan Macmillan said Forbes Watson's tenure at the company "has been marked by strong and consistent growth, innovative thinking, decisive leadership and the development of incomparable talent in all facets of the business."
"Of my 45 years in trade publishing, my time at Pan Macmillan has been the happiest," Forbes Watson noted. "Now is the right time for everyone at Pan Mac to be refreshed and renewed by new leadership, and for me to give my time to other things."
French lawmakers "are coming to the defense of booksellers" with the introduction of a law that would set a fixed minimum delivery rate for books. Quartz reported that the bill, which was presented before the National Assembly September 29, "is the latest move to even the playing field for independent booksellers, who face competition not only from Amazon, but also French online retailers such as Fnac and Cultura."
"Small booksellers face costs that are far away from those of major retailers," said Géraldine Bannier, the law's sponsor.
Ryan Raffaelli, a professor at Harvard Business School who has studied how bookstores remain resilient despite Amazon competition, observed that no matter whether France's law passes, Amazon will continue to take risks that independent booksellers cannot. "Still, Raffaelli says the latest French tactic is different from similar anti-competition lawsuits brought by U.S. booksellers against Amazon because the legislation is underpinned by the belief that bookstores are not just a form of commerce, but a cultural product," Quartz wrote.
After the law was passed by the French Senate in June, culture minister Roselyne Bachelot observed that "a book is not a good like others."
At the New Zealand Book Industry awards last week, Schrödinger's Books in Petone, which opened in 2019, won the Nielsen Book NZ Bookshop of the Year Award. The judges said Schrödinger's had "a beautiful physical space, arresting windows and merchandising excellence, a focus on personalized customer service and commercial and community reach beyond their own doors. Their inventory is specific and curated, having developed a specialization in Manga and a deliberate differentiation from their local competitor.
"They've rapidly opened up to social media, built a website, actively ramped up their events programs and ensured they are a part of the small community with numerous book clubs and cross promotions with other local retailers. They are resilient, resourceful, environmentally conscious and they understand their strengths. They have a strong aesthetic and a commitment to being quirky and offering something different. There were so many quality nominations for this award that is difficult to single out one. There are many wonderful bookshops in NZ with incredible histories. This year we honor a bookshop building its legacy within our amazing bookselling community."
"I'm totally gobsmacked," said co-owner Mary Fawcett.
Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand CEO Dan Slevin commented: "We are proud of all our bookstores not just surviving but thriving in the current challenging environment and were so impressed with Schrӧdinger's Books's tenacity, perseverance and creativity under trying times."
The Book Industry Awards are organized by Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand and PANZ Te Rau o Tākupu (the Publishers Association of NZ), and sponsored by Nielsen Book. Check out the complete list of winners here. --Robert Gray