Ordinarily, the transfer of leadership within a publishing company isn’t news to the general reading public, so some might wonder why there’s any buzz about Victoria Barnsley stepping down as CEO and publisher of HarperCollins UK. While the news is apparently quite abrupt, even for the staff inside the publishing house, it comes immediately following the decision to have several other HarperCollins international divisions no longer report to Barnsley, but rather to HarperCollins Worldwide CEO Brian Murray.
What is actually newsworthy and could demonstrate the potential impact for authors and readers is the announcement naming Barnsley’s replacement: Charlie Redmayne, current CEO of Pottermore.
While Redmayne is such a logical choice for the position, given his history as the chief digital officer for HarperCollins UK and after his stunning track record with building the Pottermore company into what it is at present, the appointment clearly points to the publisher’s desire to have someone at the helm who has a firm grasp of the digital side of the industry and who knows how to grow a brand based around digital content.
In an interview with The Bookseller, Redmayne said, “Steering Pottermore through such a ground-breaking time in its development has been a great experience, and I am proud of what we have achieved. We have built up a brilliant in-house team at Pottermore, and I know I am leaving it in the best possible hands. I am excited for its future under new leadership, where it will continue to push the boundaries of digital publishing.”
While Pottermore will be sad to lose its CEO, Redmayne left the company in good standing with two strong partners in Sony and Warner Bros., and CTO Julian Thomas heading it up until a replacement is found. And while there will no doubt be speculation about the sudden departure of Barnsley, she, too, left the company on a high note, having been named as publisher of the year last year in the UK.
According to the article, Barnsley stated, “I’ve always wanted to time my departure so that I could leave the company at the right moment and in the best possible shape. Now is that time. HarperCollins is about to embark on a new chapter of its long history as part of the new News Corp, and I’m more than confident that its very talented teams, working with our best-in-class authors, will continue to go from strength to strength.”