Reagan Arthur Returns to Hachette

by Pelican Press
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Reagan Arthur Returns to Hachette

Reagan Arthur, the former publisher of Knopf, is joining Hachette Book Group to start and run a new imprint, Hachette said Thursday.

Her appointment comes weeks after Arthur was let go from her position as publisher of Knopf, one of the most prestigious imprints at Penguin Random House, a move that surprised many in the publishing industry.

At Hachette, Arthur will launch and oversee a new publishing line within Grand Central Publishing Group, and will also edit prominent authors at other imprints. Arthur’s own imprint, as yet unnamed, will release between four and six books a year.

In an interview, Arthur said she envisioned her new imprint as a place to further develop the kinds of books she’s long published, putting out a selective list of literary and commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction.

“I get to build something that will have a lot of care and focus,” she said. “I’m excited about bringing in new voices as well as writers that I’ve admired for a long time.”

Arthur is known for her keen commercial instincts. Before moving to Knopf, she was the publisher of Little, Brown, a Hachette imprint, where she edited and published a string of best-selling and award-winning works, including books by Elin Hilderbrand, Michael Connelly, Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, Kate Atkinson, Eleanor Catton and David Sedaris.

At Knopf, she published hits like Gabrielle Zevin’s “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” which has sold more than a million copies, and Jayne Anne Phillips’s “Night Watch,” which won the Pulitzer Prize this year.

Arthur’s return to Hachette, where she will start in September, comes at a challenging moment for big publishing houses, which are struggling with rising supply chain costs, tepid print sales and a changing market, as sales are increasingly driven by viral trends and it’s become more difficult to help authors break out.

As a result, some major publishing companies are restructuring, leading to the departure of high profile editors.

Last month, Hachette Book Group laid off seven employees at its Little, Brown imprint, as part of a corporate restructuring. It has since hired three new editors to fill positions at Little, Brown. These changes followed a reshuffling at the top. Little, Brown’s former editor in chief, Judy Clain, left to run an imprint at Simon & Schuster in January, and in March, Sally Kim, who previously worked as the publisher of Putnam, a Penguin Random House imprint, was appointed as the president and publisher of Little, Brown, becoming the first woman of color to lead the imprint.

In May, Penguin Random House dismissed Arthur, who had been the publisher of Knopf since 2020, and Lisa Lucas, who was the publisher of Pantheon and Schocken and had been the first Black publisher at Pantheon in its 80-year history. Their departures were part of a cost-saving restructuring, according to a person in publishing familiar with the decision.

In a statement announcing Arthur’s return to Hachette, David Shelley, chief executive of Hachette Book Group and Hachette UK, said that Arthur, in addition to bringing in new authors, would be tasked with “fostering even greater collaboration between Hachette US and UK.”

Bringing two companies into greater alignment has been one of Shelley’s key goals since he became chief executive of Hachette’s US arm in January. Part of Arthur’s role will be to copublish select titles with Hachette’s UK imprint Sceptre, and to oversee the company’s global English-language publishing collaborations.

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