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Friday, September 26, 2014

Huge changes at Penguin-Random NZ

2014 has seen major changes at Random House New Zealand, but the latest is a real shock.

 Nicola Legat (pictured above), who was publishing director when RHNZ, published the prize-winning Tupaia, the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator, is departing from the firm.

Perhaps it was signaled back on April 30, when it was announced that Margaret Thompson, managing director of Penguin New Zealand, was to take over as MD of the combined operation, Penguin-Random -- even the order of the words is a clue!

This appointment meant that Karen Ferns, joint managing director of Random House Australia and Random House New Zealand, left the firm in May.  As the old hands at RHNZ sadly noted, she was going to be badly missed -- "Karen has made an invaluable contribution to Random House growing the sales and company over many years. Highly respected within the publishing industry, Karen has been a passionate advocate for New Zealand and New Zealand publishing."

Personally, I remember the basket of goodies and lovely signed card that was waiting in my hotel room when I was a Random House author at the Auckland Readers and Writers bookfest.

Karen Ferns was farewelled by more than 90 people from all parts of the industry at a function in Auckland. Publishers and booksellers came from across New Zealand to thank her for her support of the industry.
There were tears in many eyes as Karen’s contribution to the industry, her leadership of Random House, her professionalism and the personal mentoring that she has given to so many were highlighted.
That was bad enough.  But to lose Nicola Legat is a massive blow.  As The Listener observed as far back as January 2008, "If you're reading a new New Zealand book this summer, chances are that Nicola Legat has influenced your reading habits."

Jenny Hellen, who was deputy publishing director of RHNZ when she bought the non-US rights to Tupaia, left in June, to take up the newly created post of New Zealand publisher for Allen & Unwin.

That was great news.  Fingers tightly crossed that there is a great future for Nicola Legat, too.


Stephen Stratford said...

Totally agree. Nicola has done a fantastic job, as did Karen and Jenny.

Lindsey Dawson said...

Yes, they were a great team. Since the long ago announcement of the worldwide merging of Penguin and Random this has been a long, slow unwinding. I also hope that Nicola finds new fields in which to play. Though first, she might just wish to take a bloody good holiday.

AnneE said...

Nicola will be very sadly missed, she has been superb.

Linda said...

Completely incomprehensible. What are tey thinking? But perhaps she has something far more exciting planned. I hope so.