He was previously Editor-in-Chief of the Random House Publishing Group, where he began in 1989 as an editorial assistant and worked for sixteen years, acquiring and editing such best-selling works of fiction and nonfiction as Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, … Thank you For Smoking by Christopher Buckley, …The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, [and] The Last Don by Mario Puzo …In 2005, he quit Random House and joined the Hachette Book Group where he founded an imprint called Twelve. True to its name, Twelve only published twelve books a year under Mr. Karp, who became its publisher and editor-in-chief.
Last Thursday, the publishing industry learned that David Rosenthal, publisher of Simon & Schuster’s flagship imprint, the eponymous Simon & Schuster, was leaving after thirteen years and that Jonathan Karp would be taking his place.
Deadline New York reported here on Wednesday night that “Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy is removing S&S publisher David Rosenthal.”
Slate’s The Big Money said here that:
S&S reported a decline of 6 percent in the first quarter's sales which was also 25 percent down from two years before … Karp's Twelve imprint was cast as an antidote to big-imprint publishing. Using his phenomenal track record for picking hits and nerves-of-steel willingness to pay big for projects …Karp showed that a small imprint could generate sales volume to match a big shop like Simon.The New York Post reported here:
Rosenthal is not known for being a profligate spender, though one rival said he's had "no big failures, but he hasn't come up with a lot of hits lately" … Both Karp and Rosenthal are known as editors who have single-minded dedication to their own authors -- but who often ignore other editors within their own companies and are thought of as difficult.The Los Angeles Times reported here that: “More than half of [Twelve’s] 37 books [published since its inception] have been bestsellers ...”
The New York Times said here that at S&S, “where he will begin on June 14, Mr. Karp will oversee the publication of more than 100 hardcovers a year.”
Karp’s expertise has largely been in narrative nonfiction. It will be interesting to see how he makes the leap to a large commercial fiction house that is publishing an average of more than eight books a month.
As someone who has thoroughly enjoyed a number of Mr. Karp’s offerings, I wish him well.