New York: HarperCollins president Brian Murray is taking as chief executive after Jane Friedman became the second publishing CEO to step down in recent weeks amid increasing pressure on the industry.
The publishing company owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. said Friedman’s resignation was effective immediately.
“We are grateful for her contributions over the past 10 years and understand her desire to seek new challenges at this point in her career,” Murdoch said in a statement issued late yesterday.
Friedman began overseeing HarperCollins’ worldwide book publishing in 1997. Previously, she was executive vice president at Random House Inc. and the Knopf Publishing Group. She was also publisher of Vintage Books and founder and president of Random House Audio Publishing.
“My 10 years at HarperCollins have been far and away the most rewarding of my career and so it was not easy to make the decision to step down,” said Friedman, who saw the company’s profits more than double during her tenure while it entered new markets including India and China.
Murray, 41, has been president of HarperCollins since July 2007. He joined the publisher 10 years earlier and held several positions in the General Books Group until 2001, when he was named CEO of HarperCollins Australia/New Zealand. Murray returned to HarperCollins in the U.S. as group president in 2004 before his promotion to president.
“In his 11-year tenure, Brian has demonstrated an impressive track record of growing publishing companies,” Murdoch said. HarperCollins said he has led the publisher’s digital efforts, including the development of its direct-to-consumer marketing.
Friedman’s departure comes less than a month after Random House CEO Peter W. Olson stepped down. Olson held the job since 1998 but was hampered by losses at the unit of Germany’s Bertelsmann AG amid a wider slowdown in book sales.
Borders Group Inc., the nation’s second-largest bookseller, said this week it was eliminating nearly 275 corporate jobs as it considers selling off the company after losing market share to online retailers and discounters in a difficult U.S. economic climate.
Its larger rival Barnes & Noble Inc., which itself has had a difficult year, has assembled a management team to study the feasibility of a combination with Borders.
Barnes & Noble recently said it expects sales at its stores open at least a year to be slightly negative instead of slightly positive this year, based on lower-than-expected sales and a challenging retail environment.