Yesterday HarperCollins announced the formation of a new Christian publishing division, bringing Thomas Nelson and Zondervan under the same roof. Mark Schoenwald has been named president and CEO of the new division, reporting to Brian Murray, president and CEO of HarperCollins Worldwide. Schoenwald also will serve on the HarperCollins executive committee. He had been president and CEO of Thomas Nelson before its acquisition by Harper last month after a nearly year-long review by the Department of Justice.
In an exclusive interview this morning with PW, Schoenwald said, "We will be building our leadership team over the next few weeks. Everything is under review--we are evaluating every area of the business," not just sales, which would seem to be one function ripe for integration. "With some things you only get one chance to get it right, and we don't want to have to go back and keep adjusting."
Schoenwald said the reason for creating the new division and bringing it under his leadership is that "people have to know who is in charge. We have to have someone leading the business."
Harper is still working out the terminology for referring to Zondervan and Nelson, since they are not separate companies anymore and are much more than imprints. "Internally we are referring to them as brands under the HarperCollins Christian Publishing unit," Schoenwald said. He reiterated Harper's intention to maintain the distinct identites of both, saying, "Zondervan is more conservative, biblically based content. Nelson is also biblically based, but with a broader editorial lense," publishing in other categories, such as business.
In a statement from Harper, the company said both Zondervan and Nelson would retain their “unique editorial focus” and be maintained as distinct brands. “The two companies have different, though complementary, missions and both will continue to acquire and publish books specific to those missions, competing as they have in the past, but collaborating where appropriate,” said the statement.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing will be headquartered in Nashville, with Nelson staff and facilities remaining there; Zondervan has renewed its current lease for a year and will stay in the same facility in Grand Rapids for the foreseeable future. "We want to have as little disruption as possible, to keep our people focused," Schoenwald said. Scott MacDonald has stepped down from his position as president and CEO of Zondervan, but "will be available to advise us in any way that's needed through the end of the year," said Schoenwald. He added, "Both brands are having positive monthly results."
In the statement from Harper Murray said, “The new division adds further scale and balance to HarperCollins’ overall portfolio, and Mark will work closely with the leadership teams of HarperCollins, Thomas Nelson, and Zondervan to build on the individual strengths of each company.” He said that MacDonald “has achieved everything I asked him to achieve at Zondervan during a most challenging time in the company’s history.”
Schoenwald joined Thomas Nelson in 2004 as chief sales officer. He was promoted to president of the company in 2009 and named CEO in 2011. During his tenure, Nelson has seen “both double digit revenue and operating income growth,” Harper stated, and had bestselling titles including Heaven is for Real and Jesus Calling. Schoenwald previously had been president of several gift, garden, and home décor companies.