Buz Teacher, a cofounder of Running Press, will move to a part-time position at the company beginning March 31. His duties will be divided between John Whalen, who is leaving his spot as group v-p and executive director of sales at Perseus to become publisher of Running, while chief operating officer Al Struzinski will expand his role on the business side. Both Whalen and Struzinski will report to David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus. And in an unrelated move, Carlo DeVito, Running associate publisher and publisher of Miniature Editions, is leaving the company to join Penguin Group USA.
Both Teacher and Steinberger said Teacher's move was a personal one, and not connected to the departure of Jack McKeown, who bought Teacher's company in early 2002. "Buz's decision is his decision about what he wants to do," said Steinberger. "For us, the issue is how to be prepared to have an orderly management succession."
Teacher will continue to consult with the company for up to two days a week, serving as an adviser to Whalen and also working in the areas of art and design. "I've been putting together a succession plan for some time, and now is the time to implement it," Teacher said, adding that he plans "to remain a part of [publishing] for many years to come." He will also remain a Perseus stockholder.
Teacher has been a strong creative force at Running, but Steinberger said his departure will not change the nature of the company. "We have more projects than we can reasonably publish," Steinberger said, adding, "In the short-term, it's not going to be different."
As for Perseus at large, the musical-chairs act is a complicated one. Whalen was actually running sales for Running before he became, in 2003, director of sales for all of Perseus. Matty Goldberg, who, before Whalen, ran sales for Perseus and Running and currently serves as Perseus's director of marketing, will become director of sales for all of Perseus, including Running. Goldberg will continue to serve as director of marketing, but that "may [be] reevaluated," Steinberger said.
Despite a 24-month period that has seen a streamlining of several Perseus divisions, Steinberger said that there's no reason to read this change as an omen of larger structural moves. "Running Press will continue to be a dynamic, independent publisher that relies on the shared services of Perseus," he said.
DeVito to Head New Unit
DeVito will join Penguin March 8 as head of a new, unnamed division that will encompass book-plus products, hardcover and paperback books—including instant books—as well as other merchandise. DeVito, who said he plans to add his own staff for his Workman-like imprint, thinks that three-month turnarounds are possible for the instant books he hopes to publish, and DVD and audio titles are also within range.
The instant books, he said, could involve "partnering with a number of different organizations to put news and pop-culture items together," citing Kobe Bryant or Jessica Lynch as the kind of figures who might be covered.
While known at Running for Mini Editions and Mini Kits—small but useful books with miniature props—DeVito does not control the licenses to those and said he won't do anything similar at Penguin. In fact, he said, while novelty titles will be a part of his list, the imprint will concentrate on serious books. "I can't lie—it is a departure," he said. DeVito expects to release 10 titles this year and 35 when the division is fully staffed.
As for the instant books, DeVito said that he'd like publishing to feel a little more urgency. "I definitely think that publishing has the ability to keep up with the electronic media. People force through an instant book now and then, but more often than not, the editorial and production staff try to keep people from doing that. We're at a stage now, with technology and smart management, where we can get out there very fast."
Running Press has not named anyone to replace DeVito; his duties will be picked up by different members of the management team.