The View From the Top
HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, one of the five largest book publishers in the world and a subsidiary of News Corp., is strategically focused on a digital evolution that will shape the company’s goals and mission in the future. The foundation of this evolution can be traced back 10 years to when Jane Friedman was hired as the company’s president and CEO. According to Friedman, in the past 10 years HarperCollins has increased profits by more than 1,000 percent and its total revenue went from $600 million to $1.3 billion in 2006.
The company publishes an average of 4,300 titles globally per year, with 3,100 employees and a publishing presence in more than 75 countries. In 2006, HarperCollins U.S. had 109 books make The New York Times Best Sellers list, including 14 titles that reached No.1.
Friedman was lured to HarperCollins after a 29-year career at Knopf Publishers, an imprint of Random House Inc., where she worked her way up the ranks from the typing pool. During her days there, she was credited with many memorable accomplishments affecting the industry, including inventing author book tours and bringing the audio book to the mainstream publishing market.
Today, Friedman is driven to mix innovative technology with publishing and inspiring her staff to take publishing to the next level.
Hard work, solid results
Friedman explains that the marketplace remains a challenge even after a financially successful decade.
“To be the best is not always the easiest thing to do, so the challenge has always been to hire the best staff to work … in a united way, to publish books,” she says. “We are in a mature business, the marketplace is somewhat flat, and we still have grown every year [the last 10 years]. So that means not only being challenged by watching our costs—and we are … very cost-efficient—but also looking for that surprise and working to maximize the sales of the surprise hit. But really the major challenge is the marketplace and how the marketplace reacts to our books.”