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Bourgeois Out at Calmann-Levy
Herbert R. Lottman -- 6/26/00

In what is being described as an unprecedented move by a French publishing group--certainly in its swiftness--Hachette has fired the CEO of one of its best-known trade affiliates, Calmann-Levy, because of his clashes with the house's top staff. Denis Bourgeois, formerly deputy director of another Hachette affiliate, Grasset, had been given the top job at Calmann only last December, taking over from Olivier Nora (who had moved to Grasset to replace its retiring publisher, Jean-Claude Fasquelle). According to insiders, the trouble began almost at once, when Bourgeois's managerial style clashed with editors accustomed to greater autonomy in decision making.

Bourgeois is being replaced, at least temporarily, by Jean-Etienne Cohen-Seat, who had already been in charge of Calmann from 1985 to 1996, at which time he was appointed deputy to Hachette group president Jean-Louis Lisimachio. Cohen-Seat has since become director of the entire Hachette trade group, and will keep that position while pinch-hitting at Calmann-Levy.

Also unprecedented, insiders report that the translation rights market had much to do with the conflict. Nina Salter, an American-in-Paris responsible for Calmann's foreign acquisitions, was one of the discontented editors--but only one of them, she confided to PW, for "the feeling was unanimous." But there was no ganging up on the publisher, and she thought that the term "palace coup" used in a Paris daily was exaggerated.
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