Eric Major, who has run the Doubleday religion publishing program since 1996 when he moved from England to join Bantam Doubleday Dell, is retiring from that post June 12. He will be succeeded by Michelle Rapkin, currently v-p and editor-in-chief of Crossings, Bookspan's Christian book club.

Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group president and publisher Steve Rubin, who oversees the religion unit, credited Major with broadening Doubleday's religion line to include titles that appeal to both the Christian and mainstream markets. Major said the religion program has become "more eclectic" over the past six years, noting in particular that Doubleday added significantly to its books aimed at the Catholic audience. The company also expanded its titles on Buddhism and Islam.

Other major developments during Major's tenure included the rejuvenation of the New Jerusalem Bible and the acquisition of Harold Shaw Publishers in late 1999. Shaw became part of Doubleday's WaterBrook Press, which was conceived prior to Major's arrival but whose first list was published under his watch in 1997. Last year, Major revamped WaterBrook's management structure, replacing president and publisher Dan Rich with Steve Cobb and Don Pape, who were named president and publisher, respectively. Major said WaterBrook's mandate is to publish "comprehensively for the CBA market" and to look for books that will work in the ABA marketplace as well.

Rapkin, who will start her new job June 3, will report to Rubin, but Pape, who had reported to Major, will report to Michael Palgon, senior v-p and deputy publisher of Doubleday Broadway.