Will Atkinson has been appointed managing director and publisher of Atlantic in the U.K., replacing Toby Mundy, who stepped down earlier this year. Atkinson has been at Faber for the last 20 years.
Atkinson, respected and loved in equal measures--he was a bookseller at Waterstone's (as then it was) in its golden days--will join the company on October 1, thus making his international debut at Frankfurt.
Peter Roche, chairman of ABL, said: "Will has played a key role in Atlantic's successes since the inauguration of the Independent Alliance in 2005 and I couldn't be more thrilled that he is joining the company as managing director and publisher this autumn. At Faber, he has demonstrated an unrelenting enthusiasm for independent publishing tempered with an unparalleled zeal for negotiating the best deal. I've admired Will's work for many years and believe he is the perfect person to head up Atlantic Books."
Atkinson said he had thought "long and hard about the move" but he had thrown his hat into the ring because, having turned down a number of offers, he was "considered off limits, not on the market. This is the right gig--it's part of the family.
"I was close with Toby and we've talked long and hard over the last few years, in good times and less good times. I'm not going to Atlantic for a rest - there's a fantastic opportunity and a wonderful heritage. It needs some confidence. But A&U as the majority shareholder is a fantastic start and one of the reasons I'm going. I understand an independent publishing company that's well owned, and Atlantic is well owned. Allen & Unwin didn't buy it to have a little bauble. They want it to be an extraordinary publishing company and it can be, so the opportunity is unique… It has history and plenty of structure. It's a challenge but there are a lot of things in place. I'm very excited."
Faber CEO Stephen Page had, he said, been "generous" and Atkinson will take his leave of the company "in six or seven weeks". There's no doubt that he will leave an enormous hole and there will be no direct replacement - his multifarious roles will be split up and reassigned.
During his two decades at Faber, most recently as sales and marketing director, Atkinson has been the brains behind a number of highly significant initiatives which now provide serious ballast for Faber--the service business provide around 20% of turnover and Atkinson said that today that there are still "significant ambitions for it." Typically however, while he was willing to agree credit for "the nomenclature" of the Faber Alliance, he modestly describes it as "a confluence of circumstances… If anything, it was Andrew Franklin's idea. I'm at the centre rather than the leader. Faber Factory is a team game, more Stephen than me."
His career at Faber had, he said, gave him "a ringside seat on some extraordinary publishing."
Page also paid generous tribute to his departing colleague, saying, he is "very sad that Will is leaving us, but can only be pleased for him and excited by what he will achieve with our friends at Atlantic."
A version of this story originally appeared in the London-based trade publication, BookBrunch.co.uk.