Lord Weidenfeld comes out fighting
Further to a piece in ‘The Bookseller’ magazine about W&N paying back some author advances it seems ‘The Observer’ newspaper added their own spin to the story. This bought out Lord Weidenfeld, co-founder of W&N, who is normally a very nice man but not one you would like to cross as the Observer has found out…
Lord Weidenfeld has rounded on the Observer, calling for a retraction of its story that Weidenfeld & Nicolson was shelving serious history books in favour of celebrity biographies and TV spin-offs, described by the newspaper as “crappy”.
The Sunday paper spun its article, published on 6th April, out of last week’s Bookseller report that Orion-owned W & N was writing off hundreds of thousands of pounds in author advances from its non-fiction list.
Weidenfeld called the Observer story “a mischievous and misleading bit of journalism”. He said: “It is a complete misrepresentation. We particularly take pride in our distinguished list of biographies, history and current affairs titles. We have written off some of our non-fiction list, but not at the expense of serious historical authors. We are still bringing out major celebrity memoirs. What we have rid ourselves of is middle of the road journalistic popularisations whose time has gone and do not have much of a market.”
The past year’s publishing list shows W & N’s commitment to serious non-fiction, Weidenfeld insisted, with the company bringing out books by Antonia Fraser, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Andrew Graham-Dixon and Antony Beevor. Its future non-fiction publishing programme includes “higher-end” authors such as Daniel Barenboim, Robert Hughes, David Marquand and Victor Sebestyen. Weidenfeld also took issue with the notion that the overall W & N list was being cut, saying resources were being shifted to other parts of the company.
He added: “This is not a reduction in our list but a shift in the programme. The market is now much more fiction orientated, and we have hired talented new staff to acquire distinguished fiction in translation as well as home-grown fiction.” This week, W & N acquired the second book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, which has sold nearly a million copies since publication in 2004.
Meanwhile, agents have reported that books dropped by W & N have “generated a lot of interest”. One agent said: “You don’t like to see any publisher dropping books, but it eventually worked out for my author. We were able to place the book very quickly.”
A commissioning editor added: “At least two of the books Orion and W & N dropped we were interested in first time around and were outbid. Whatever W & N’s problems are is neither here nor there for us.”
Meanwhile look out for a new Led Zeppelin biography by Mick Wall in September from Orion and the new Chris Simms (very dark but highly enjoyable crime series set in Manchester) novel is out in May.
This entry was posted on April 17, 2008 at 8:49 pm and is filed under Authors, Books, The Bookseller . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.