New imprints and changes in UK publishing

As we approach the end of the year there has been a flurry of announcements in UK publishing – new imprints and new houses, as well as some retirements of well-known names.

Former Hodder CEO Jamie Hodder-Williams who left Hodder in spring 2022, has announced that he has launched Bedford Square Publishers with ex-John Murray sales director Laura Fletcher.  The house aims to publish 30 titles a year, focusing on reading group fiction, crime, smart non-fiction and wellness titles.  It has also acquired the independent crime publisher No Exit Press.

The publisher takes its name from the original home of Hodder, and of so many other publishers over the years, in Bloomsbury’s perfectly preserved Bedford Square with its elegant Georgian townhouses.  Williams said: “It’s great to have the chance to work in an agile new company and I’m thrilled to be taking on the award-winning No Exit Press. Helping authors reach their readers will lie at the heart of everything we do. There’s plenty of scope for finding original voices and experimenting, as well as taking some lessons from the very best. We plan to offer authors an adaptable publishing model – and hopefully a different publishing experience.” 

That model is likely to include “some profit share models as well as conventional advance and royalty models”.

Michal Shavit, publishing director of Jonathan Cape is to leave her post to launch a new imprint within Vintage.  The new list, of which Shavit will be publishing director, will focus on intellectually rigorous non-fiction.  She said: “I am excited about this next chapter: having the chance to build a focused list from scratch and to have the space for more proactive commissioning, creative collaboration and connecting with international colleagues to bring global audiences to great writing and thinking is both inspiring and thrilling.

“Finding those writers who can provide intellectual light and sustenance as we try to navigate an uncertain and often unpredictable world, is what so many readers, including myself, search for as we try to make sense of who we are, our past, the present and future. I look forward to sharing more on the new imprint in due course.”

Two long-standing publishing figures have announced they will retire at the end of the year.  The scout Koukla MacLehose is to leave London Literary Scouting, which she founded in 1987, and Jane Gregory, who founded her eponymous agency in the same year, is to retire from David Higham Associates which bought her agency in 2017.