After a 30-year career at Random House, the last 10 in which he ran Random House Children’s Books division, Chip Gibson is leaving the company. Gibson will be succeeded as president and publisher of the division by children’s publishing veteran Barbara Marcus. The changes are effective immediately.
Before moving to RHCB in 2002, Gibson was president and publisher of the Crown Publishing Group, and before that had worked in sales. He was one of Random House chairman Markus Dohle’s most trusted advisors since Dohle took over the publisher from Peter Olson. In his letter to employees, Dohle said that after 30 years Gibson had decided it was time for a break. "Many of you know how special Chip is to me. We have talked a lot about the change he wants to make, and because I want the best for Chip, I have come to accept his decision."
Gibson said he had never intended to stay in children’s books for longer than three years, but "fell in love with the books and my colleagues." He said he was proudest of creating a culture that recruited talented people and was able to retain them. "We have a strong culture where people work hard but can have some fun," Gibson said.
He told PW that Marcus, whom he helped recruit to replace him, was the perfect person to keep the momentum at RHCB moving forward. For her part, Marcus said the time was right for her to return to publishing on a fulltime basis. "After staying away a while I was ready to go back in," she said. Random is "the right organization with the right team at the right time." Since leaving Scholastic, Marcus has worked as a consultant for a number of companies, most recently Penguin and Open Road Integrated Media. Her publishing philosophy, she said, is that people buy the same children's books for their kids that they read when they were young. "I would like to create some new classics and to reinvigorate the backlist," she said. Before she does anything, however, she stressed that “I will see what Random House is focused on and what their plans are. I will be a student for a while,” she said.
Gibson could well follow Marcus’s approach to her career. He intends to “do absolutely nothing” for a few months before “seeing what is out there.” He didn’t rule out a return to publishing or Random House, though he said he would not go back to the children’s group. “I’m leaving on my own terms with a lot of good feelings for Random House and the people there,” he said.