Editor of David Foster Wallace promoted to CEO

AP News
Posted: Sep 10, 2012 3:37 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — One of the country's top publishers has turned to a man from the editorial side to run its business.

Michael Pietsch, the editor of Keith Richards' "Life," David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King" and the many novels of James Patterson, has been named CEO of Hachette Book Group. Pietsch has headed the publisher's Little, Brown and Co. division for 11 years.

"I love working closely with writers and I'm hopeful that I'll get to continue to work with them in other ways in helping them achieve whatever they want to achieve," Pietsch said Monday during a brief telephone interview. "I have always loved the business side of our business. I didn't think of myself as wanting to be a CEO, but I always wanted to learn more about the business and about bringing the right book into a reader's hands at the right moment."

Pietsch succeeds David Young, who will step down March 31. The 61-year-old is returning to Britain to be with his family and will become deputy chief executive of Hachette UK and CEO of the Orion Publishing Group division. Pietsch will continue to report to Young, whose reign was highlighted by the rise of Stephenie Meyer and her "Twilight" novels.

"I have enjoyed enormously my time here and the company going from strength to strength, and I leave behind a brilliant team who work together so wonderfully, and will now be very ably led by Michael Pietsch," Young, who has been CEO since 2006, said in a statement.

The 55-year-old Pietsch is known for his literary touch and commercial savvy, whether signing up Richards for what became a million-selling memoir, shepherding Patterson's multiple annual best-sellers, or assembling author notes left behind after Wallace's suicide and editing and publishing "The Pale King," a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. This fall, Little, Brown releases include Tom Wolfe's "Back to Blood" and J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy."

Monday's announcement comes as Hachette confronts a recent settlement with the U.S. government over allegations of price fixing that will likely lead to reduced prices for e-books and greater power for Amazon.com, a major concern for publishers and rival booksellers. Pietsch declined to discuss the settlement, but did say the moment was right for "focusing on the authors you publish."

"How much you partner with them and the quality of your marketing matters more than ever," he said.