Mitch Albom is leaving Hyperion for Harper. The bestselling author has left his longtime publisher and signed a three-book deal with the HarperCollins imprint. The first title in the deal, set for fall 2013, is a novel called The First Phone Call from Heaven. Jonathan Burnham, senior v-p and publisher of the HarperCollins imprint, along with executive editor Karen Rinaldi, took North American rights in the deal from David Black at the David Black Agency.
According to Nielsen BookScan, Albom's most successful novel to date, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, has sold just over 5.5 million copies in hardcover and paperback combined. Another of the author's biggest hits, and the book that launched his status as a bestseller, Tuesdays With Morrie, has, per BookScan, sold just over 2.9 million copies in hardcover and paperback combined.
Rinaldi, who said she tried to acquire Tuesdays With Morrie when it was on submission, said Albom's ensuing success has always been "bittersweet for me." She then added that, this acqusition, therefore, "is particularly satisfying."
The move also indicates that Hyperion, which has spoken about the shift to focus its books on synergy with other brands at parent company Disney, may be moving further away from a standard frontlist publishing program.
In The First Phone Call From Heaven a small town in Michigan is thrust into the international spotlight when its citizens suddenly start receiving, as Haprer put it, "phone calls from the afterlife."