The Bookseller 150 - 2020

  • Nels Abbey

    The Black Writers’ Guild Author/co–founder

    Abbey, who founded The Black Writers’ Guild with publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove and journalist Afua Hirsch, wants the major publishing houses in the UK to introduce sweeping reforms to make the industry more inclusive at all levels. He keynoted the FutureBook Conference with a speech based around his first book, Think Like a White Man. Abbey wants the guild to become a critical friend to the sector, but as he told the ALCS earlier this year, “there is no table that we are not going to turn over”.

    Authors & illustrators New Entry Trade Bodies
  • Dapo Adeola

    Author & illustrator

    The fight for illustrator recognition continues apace, with Adeola being one of the more powerful voices this year. His open letter to the BBC and the wider media to credit illustrators, after the Beeb failed to note him in a piece it did on Sir Lenny Henry’s children’s book, garnered hundreds of signatures from across the books world and generated wider discussions on not just credit, but paying illustrators their due. A brilliant year creatively, too, with his and author Nathan Bryon’s Look Up! winning the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year.  

    Authors & illustrators New Entry
  • Clare Alexander

    Aitken Alexander Co-founder & chair

    Trying to top 2019—when this literary stalwart agented half the Women’s Prize shortlist (Pat Barker, Diana Evans, Oyinkan Braithwaite)—might have seemed a tall order, but Alexander had a blistering 2020, inking notable deals for literary lights including Francis Spufford, Evans and Barker, as well as for débutant Melissa Fu. The agency as a whole has been in similar fine form, with changes including Chris Wellbelove being made head of books and Emma Paterson joining Alexander, Lisa Baker and m.d. Lesley Thorne on the board.

    Agents & rights
  • Darley Anderson

    Darley Anderson Literary Agency Founder & literary agent

    The super-agent’s year kicked off with a mega four-book deal with Transworld to secure the Jack Reacher succession—and Lee and Andrew Child’s first collaboration shot to number one. There were also deals for Tana French and Chris Carter, though crime queen Martina Cole’s usual autumn title was put back to 2021 after a bout of illness. New initiatives included the launch of Darley Anderson Illustration Agency, led by Clare Wallace, and an expansion of the kids’ business under new recruit Lydia Silver.

    Agents & rights
  • Syima Aslam

    Bradford Literature Festival Director & founder

    Like most festival directors, Aslam’s year was one of innovating to deliver Covid-safe events while staying true to her organisation’s spirit. Aslam and her team produced with a mix of pre-recorded, live and interactive events, all “as diverse as Bradford itself”. Starry names were there—Lemn Sissay in conversation with Christopher Ecclestone; Ian Rankin and US congresswoman Ilhan Omar—but arguably the core was its packed schools and education programme, delivered with free resource packs for kids.

    Fairs & Festivals
  • Owen Atkinson

    ALCS Executive director & C.e.o.

    ALCS has always been a vital supplementary stream of income for writers, a lifeline which enables some of them to be able to continue to create. With book sales down and events and appearance fees decimated this year, Atkinson and his team’s importance has been dramatic, with ALCS distributing £36.8m from licensing, reuse and overseas public lending right fees to its nearly 110,000 members. But ALCS’ importance extends beyond its core remit, working hard on campaigning and lobbying for members, and funding a variety of prizes.

    Trade Bodies
  • Bolu Babalola

    Author

    Self-styled pop culture and romcom expert Babalola has amassed a large social media following thanks to her wit and forthrightness. The scriptwriter and journalist was shortlisted for The Guardian and 4th Estate B4ME prize in 2016, before landing a book deal with Headline last year. Her début Love in Colour was a bestseller, featuring on BBC2’s book club programme and making the Waterstones Book of the Year shortlist, while Babalola has also been outspoken about issues such as tokenism and snobbery towards romantic fiction.

    Authors & illustrators Influencers New Entry
  • Naomi Bacon

    Tandem Collective Co-founder

    Former Pan Mac digital publicist and 2016 The Bookseller Rising Star Bacon founded digital marketing consultancy Tandem in 2016 with Rob Cox. Bacon and the team have grown Tandem significantly this year, working its razor-sharp influencer/read-along/partnership model on some of the biggest campaigns, from Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other to Caitlin Moran’s More Than a Woman. Its clients range from small presses to the big boys, and some from as far afield as India and Canada.

    New Entry PR, sales & marketing
  • Nick Barley

    Edinburgh international Book Festival Director

    “All the fun, just no tents” was the tagline for Barley’s festival, as it switched online. The pandemic put paid to the typical stuffed Edinburgh schedule, reducing the circa-800 events to around 150. But online can deliver huge global audiences, with over 210,000 viewers “from every continent but Antartica” during the initial run of the festival, while the most-watched live event was 5,000 people tuning in to see a conversation between Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

    Fairs & Festivals
  • Jason Bartholomew

    Midas PR C.e.o.

    With founders Tony Mulliken and Steven Williams retiring (though the latter’s ride off into the sunset is pandemic-delayed), Bartholomew took the reins of one of the savviest PR firms in town. Midas excelled in a year of online pivoting to build excitement, and get clicks and column inches for authors and publishers, typified by head of books and publishing Georgina Moore’s Best of Lockdown FutureBook Award for her campaign for Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet. Managing long-term client the London Book Fair’s move to June will be a big test in 2021.

    PR, sales & marketing
  • Kumsal Bayazit

    Elsevier C.e.o.

    The world's biggest STM publisher had been resistant to the move to Open Access, but since Bayazit took over, she has overseen experimentation with OA and pay-to-publish models. An example is a years-long negotiation with the Netherlands being concluded in May, to take a paywall away from 95% of Elsevier content in the country. The shift may be driven by the new economic reality of cash-strapped university libraries, but it has not affected the bottom line: Elsevier turned over £2.6bn in 2019/20, with a whopping £982m profit.

    Bosses
  • Alex Beecroft

    Collins M.d.

    Beecroft was not afforded the luxury of easing into his new job as head of one of the UK’s biggest schools publishers: he arrived during the teeth of lockdown, when education content was being prioritised. But it says much for Beecroft’s strategic thinking and managerial nous that Collins thrived during the pandemic, balancing giving away free content with keeping some existing pricing in place. Before his role at Collins, Beecroft ran HarperCollins’ merger strategy team, leading the acquisition of Egmont UK.

    Divisional heads New Entry
  • Catherine Bell & Steve Thompson

    Scholastic Co-m.d.s

    While revenues have taken a coronavirus hit—particularly in its book fairs side—it has still been a strong year for Scholastic, led by one of the events of the year: Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which became the first YA book to top the charts in five years. Meanwhile, Dav Pilkey's star continued to rise with Grime and Punishment and a World Book Day title, and there was a new outing in Craig Smith and Katz Cowley's Wonkey Donkey series.

    Bosses
  • Andrea Bennett

    The Works Trading director

    For a book retailer with a turnover of £225m, The Works does not get talked about much, undoubtedly down to the deep-discount ethos which rankles some. Yet the Warwickshire-headquartered company has continued its programme of expansion, with 37 shops opening in this year, bringing the estate up to 534 outlets across the UK and Ireland. Bennett’s books buying team has expanded its range, with a significant ramping-up of its adult stock, while its website sales more than doubled over the lockdown periods.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Abigail Bergstrom

    Gleam Titles Founder

    In her four years as boss of the literary arm of influencer management company Gleam Futures, Bergstrom has shepherded 33 titles by her clients onto the bestseller lists, building some of today’s biggest book brands: see cleaning Instagrammer Mrs Hinch. Her focus is on expanding careers; a recent Orion deal saw the duo behind parenting platform Mother Pukka turn to fiction. Bergstrom will see things from the other side soon: her début novel What a Shame will be released by Hodder in 2022. 

    Agents & rights New Entry
  • Paul Best

    Elliott Advisors Head of European private equity

    There is an argument that the present and future health of bricks-and-mortar bookselling on both sides of the Atlantic—and by extension, the book industry itself—is dependent on Best and a small group of execs at his circa-$45bn hedge fund. Elliott doesn’t have the cuddliest reputation, but Best has repeatedly said that Elliott is not asset-stripping, but in it for the long haul with Waterstones and Barnes & Noble. The fund also added online bookseller Wordery to its ranks during 2020.

    Booksellers & distributors New Entry
  • Monty Bhatia

    Little Tiger press M.d.

    Further changes were afoot for Bhatia’s business following last year’s acquisition by PRH. All imprints were brought under the Little Tiger brand, with Thomas Truong named group publishing director. Ellie Farmer was promoted to editorial director of the picture book list, while Lauren Ace became fiction editorial director and Charlie Moyer joined as art director. The press enjoyed prize recognition too: LGBTQ+ anthology Proud was named Visionary Honours Book of the Year, and Darren Charlton’s début Wranglestone was Costa-shortlisted.

    Divisional heads
  • Andy Bird

    Pearson C.e.o.

    Former Walt Disney exec Bird took over Pearson in October, at a time when the world's biggest publisher is in a difficult transition as it tries to supplement its legacy textbook business (particularly in the US). A huge strategy shift is Bird's new direct-to-consumer division, helmed by his old Hollywood pal Lynne Frank, in order to sell to individuals as well as institutions. It's been a slightly rocky start, though: the £7m "golden hello" bonus Bird received for taking the job caused much ire with shareholders.

    Bosses New Entry
  • Neil Blair

    The Blair Partnership Founder

    Managing J K Rowling’s multichannel IP interests was perhaps slightly stressful this year, but Blair is nothing if not focused on the bigger picture. Rowling’s appeal to readers remains undimmed, with a monster hit in her latest Robert Galbraith and her first foray into picture books, The Ickabog, the serialisation of which was one of the innovations of the year. His firm lost some clients because of the controversy around Rowling, but it also took on three agents-at-large Michelle Gayle, Maajid Nawaz and Dana International to expand its roster.

    Agents & rights
  • Nic Bottomley

    Mr B’s/Bookseller Association Co-owner/executive chair

    Bottomley was this year appointed executive chair of the BA Group, focusing on internal governance and group strategy, as well as speaking out about issues affecting retailers throughout the pandemic. His indie Mr B’s introduced reading lists about vital current issues and gave more space to its children’s section; launched a new, highly curated website; switched to recyclable packaging; and created a YouTube channel for author interviews and daily storytimes. This saw it win the FutureBook Awards’ Best of Retail category.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Valerie Brandes

    Jacaranda Founder & publisher

    This year, Brandes' dynamic Jacaranda—which won the 2020 Nibbie for Small Press of the Year—had arguably its strongest 12 months ever, with its efforts ranging across its new non-fiction series A Quick Ting On, and its groundbreaking #TwentyIn2020 initiative, which will see it publish 20 Black British writers this year. It joined forces with fellow indie Knights Of for the #InclusiveIndies campaign for diversity-led lists, in collaboration with literary organisation Spread the Word, raising more than £174,000.

    Bosses New Entry
  • Venetia Butterfield

    Penguin General Publishing director

    A little over a year after being promoted to her current role, Butterfield will take another leap forward in 2021, having been tabbed to succeed Susan Sandon as Cornerstone m.d. The new role is in no doubt recognition for a standout few years, which included setting up the Penguin Life list and her stellar work at Penguin General, which has published some of 2020’s most zeitgeisty books, such as Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club, Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts and Ben MacIntyre’s Agent Sonya.

    Divisional heads
  • Jamie Byng

    Canongate C.e.o.

    A roistering year for Byng's Canongate, with strong sales and scores of prize shortlistings. Editorial is purring under Francis Bickmore and is led by superstar Matt Haig, whose The Midnight Library claimed Canongate's first ever Original Fiction number one, helped by superb pandemic promotion from publicity director Anna Frame and commercial director Jenny Fry's teams. The growing kids' list signed Tom and Rob Sears' The Biggest Footprint, while inking the late Alan Rickman's diaries was a coup.

    Bosses Evergreen
  • Annie Callanan

    Taylor & Francis/Publishers Association C.e.o./president

    Callanan's third year at the helm of Taylor & Francis has been one of challenges, and not solely because of coronavirus-related matters. The ongoing debates in academia on the pricing of publishers' content has come to a boil this year, and she staked out her position at this year's FutureBook conference by emphasising that whatever the models of the future will be, they must be sustainably funded. At the moment, T&F is a very sustainable model, with sales of £256.5m in the first half of 2020 representing 2% growth.

    Bosses
  • Candice Carty-Williams

    Author

    Voice of a generation accolades sometimes get thrown at those who are only within shouting distance of the zeitgeist, but it’s an appropriate label for Carty-Williams, whose début Queenie captivated readers and critics as it deftly and poignantly touches on issues such as consent and police brutality. This summer she became the first Black woman to win the Book of the Year Nibbie. As she herself stated, it is a breakthrough that is to be rightly celebrated, but it should also cause us to reflect on why it has taken so long.

    Authors & illustrators New Entry
  • Ian Chapman

    S&S UK & International C.e.o. & publisher

    It's been a decent year for Chapman's S&S, with a surging commercial fiction list, Mary Trump's memoir and Rachel Denwood's thrusting new-look children's division. But the big stories have been corporate: the death of global c.e.o. Carolyn Reidy and, of course, the acquisition (pending approval) by Penguin Random House. Although mergers are always fraught and stressful for staff, PRH might in the end be a better fit for S&S than ViacomCBS which, it is fair to say, did not always put publishing first.

    Bosses Evergreen
  • Jonty Claypole

    BBC Director of arts

    In September, Claypole set out in these pages his commitment to books content “during lockdown and for the foreseeable future”. He highlighted the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine programme, featuring: poetry festival Contains Strong Language; “lively” books programme “Between the Covers”; Booker Prize coverage; and a reboot of “Novels That Shaped Our World”. He also confirmed a second edition of The Big Book Weekend virtual festival, and the BBC continues to “promote literature, support authors and encourage everyone to read more”.

    Influencers
  • Carsten Coesfeld

    DK C.e.o.

    Coesfeld took over a DK that was left in good nick by predecessor Ian Hudson, but he started just before lockdown, and much of his early tenure was dealing with the new landscape. A lockdown launch was the Stay at Home Hub, a suite of free learning and wellbeing resources for kids and parents. The pandemic has prompted strategic thinking about the post-Covid market, with Coesfeld prepping DK for a world of increased online shopping by upping DK's digital marketing and consumer insight.

    Bosses New Entry
  • Sam Copeland

    RCW Agent

    With A F Steadman’s Skandar and the Unicorn Thief middle grade fantasy series, Copeland had one of those once-in-a-blue-moon deals that break into the wider media: the agent secured seven-figures for both publishing and film rights for its 28-year-old début author. That was the tip of the iceberg in a standout year, which saw global stardom for clients Alex Michaelides and Holly Jackson, and a series of heated auctions including for débutants Helen-Rose Andrews and Ian Mark.

    Agents & rights New Entry
  • Cressida Cowell

    Author

    As children's laureate, Cowell jumped right into the challenges faced by social-distanced 2020, running a virtual summer camp in July to inspire families to embrace books and creativity over the school summer holidays, and launching the digital kids’ book festival Reading is Magic in late September. The latter’s name was inspired by Cowell’s key message as laureate: “Reading is magic, and magic is for everyone.” On top of that, her fourth Wizards of Once book débuted strongly in the Children’s charts, and has shifted nearly 20,000 copies since publication.

    Authors & illustrators
  • Carl Cowling

    W H Smith C.e.o.

    “Bruising” was a typical adjective tossed around for WHS’ Covid-hit performance, with headline losses of £68m compared to a profit of £155m in the previous year. This was not unexpected given its footprint, a quite frankly sub-par online offer and a star division dependent on people travelling. The pain will be deep: mass shop closures and job losses of perhaps up to 2,000 (150 of which are from the head office). Cowling is fully aware of the difficulties ahead, but is confident the restructuring will bring the “resilient and agile” WHS out the other side.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Sara Cox

    BBC TV & radio host

    This autumn saw the launch of BBC2’s books programme, produced by Cactus TV and hosted by Cox. The seven-part series has seen the presenter celebrate the joys of reading with a host of famous faces, and at the heart of each 30-minute show is a carefully chosen “book of the week” from authors including Matt Haig, Ingrid Persaud and Stuart Turton. With all featured books stickered, and viewers encouraged to join in the discussion online, Cox has helped to bring books back to primetime.

    Influencers New Entry
  • Sarah Crown

    Arts Council England Literature director

    To paraphrase Dead Ink Books’ Nathan Connolly, this year Arts Council England (ACE) “saved indie publishing”. For many small presses faced with both the pandemic and Bertrams’ collapse, ACE funding was vital. Back in the spring, Crown announced an emergency funding package to help artists and organisations cope with the pandemic, of which £2.46m went to the literature sector, and £151,000 to libraries to buy digital products. Further grants from the Culture Recovery Fund were awarded to indies, literary festivals and other bookish bodies.

    Trade Bodies
  • Fathima Dada

    Oxford Education M.d.

    Dada has overseen the integration of OUP’s merged education divisions (formerly Oxford Education and Oxford Asia), and the press has had particular sales success in the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. An example of the latter is an an audio partnership with China’s main audio sharing platform, Ximalaya, for its Oxford Reading Tree content. As the biggest schools publisher in the UK, OUP responded quickly to the Covid crisis and ensuing lockdown by offering free access to its MyMaths and Kerboodle platforms.

    Divisional heads
  • James Daunt

    Waterstones/Barnes & Noble M.d./c.e.o.

    Daunt has not minced words on the effect of lockdowns on his transatlantic businesses, calling them a “body blow”—one which has had a human cost for Waterstones, with a number of head-office redundancies. His campaign to get the UK to classify bookshops as essential services may be a trifle self-serving, but he is not wrong in slamming the arbitrary application of restrictions. Daunt remains determined that online can bridge the gap until full service resumes in-store, but December sales will be crucial.

    Booksellers & distributors Evergreen
  • Juno Dawson

    Author

    May was a big month for Dawson. It kicked off with Proud, an anthology of stories by LGBTQ+ writers she edited, winning the Visionary Honours Book of the Year; then news of a TV deal for her London trilogy of YA novels; then her fashion-industry exposé Meat Market won the YA Book Prize; and to round off, a new release: Wonderland. She also continued to speak up for LGBTQ+ youth, and expanded her reach by writing for BBC iPlayer’s Spark series for teenagers, and appearing in both “I May Destroy You” and “Pointless Celebrities”.

    Authors & illustrators New Entry
  • Suzanne Dean

    Vintage Creative director

    The quality of output from Dean and her charges at Vintage is consistently excellent, giving ample joy to its army of Instagram followers, as well as discerning book buyers. Dean herself created superb covers for débuts by Ocean Vuong and Deepa Anappara this year, as well as redeploying Noma Bar’s illustrations for a bold paperback edition of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. And with her art director’s hat on, Dean enables her team to excel: she oversaw three of the six shortlistees for the Series design gong at this year’s ABCD awards.

    Designers
  • Kit de Waal

    Author

    Author and campaigner de Waal was described as “both a force for change and a force for good” upon being named FutureBook Person of the Year in 2019, following her commitments to widening the range of voices within publishing. She set up the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Fellowship to improve working-class representation in the arts and edited Common People, an anthology of working-class voices. In May, she set up the virtual book festival Big Book Weekend with author Molly Flatt, bringing together the best of the festival events that were cancelled in 2020.

    Authors & illustrators
  • Isobel Dixon

    Blake Friedmann/AAA M.d. & head of books/president

    Dixon began the year by succeeding Lizzy Kremer as president of the Association of Authors’ Agents. She has spoken out on key issues during a turbulent period, from publishers delaying author payments in the first lockdown, to the lack of book trade representation on the government’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce, the threat of a no-deal Brexit, and PRH’s acquisition of Simon & Schuster. In her day job, there were prize shortlistings for clients Peter James, Monique Roffey and Joseph O’Connor.

    Agents & rights New Entry Trade Bodies
  • Josie Dobrin

    Creative Access C.e.o.

    Dobrin and her team continued their close work with the trade this year, supporting recruitment for more than 250 roles at 35-plus publishers. Creative Access also launched a mentoring programme with PRH, appointed Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page as the new chair of its board, and administered more grants in memory of the late Nielsen Book employee Mo Siewcharran. It also launched #MoreThanWords, a call to action for creative businesses to make a wholehearted commitment to recruiting and uplifting underrepresented talent.

    Trade Bodies
  • Francesca Dow

    PRH Children’s M.d.

    Puffin turned 80 in 2020, which saw the expansion of its World of Stories programme, the launch of the “Puffin Podcast”, and a Waterstones Children’s Book Prize win for Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola’s Look Up! Dow’s division also offered support throughout the pandemic with the virtual Puffin Festival of Big Dreams and free Puffin Storytimes. There were several exciting deals too, including tempting across Greg James and Chris Smith from Bloomsbury, and signing kids’ titles from Fearne Cotton and Adam Kay.

    Divisional heads
  • Reni Eddo-Lodge

    Author

    Back in June, as Black Lives Matter protests swept the world in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Eddo-Lodge became the first Black British author to top the Nielsen BookScan Official UK Top 50. While her 2017 book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race made every anti-racism book list, Eddo-Lodge, with her characteristic forthrightness, voiced her conflicted feelings, telling the Guardian: “I do find it distressing that it took [Floyd’s death] to legitimise racism for a bunch of people who weren’t paying attention before.”

    Authors & illustrators New Entry
  • Kate Elton

    HarperFiction, HarperNonFiction et al M.d.

    Elton is nearing the 10th anniversary of her move to HarperCollins from Random House and, one imagines, she needs to invest in some extra-large business cards, as with a promotion this summer she stepped up to become m.d. of no fewer than six HC divisions: HarperFiction, HarperNonFiction, Avon, One More Chapter, HarperNorth and HarperCollins Ireland. The latter two are part of HC’s commendable move to offices in Manchester and Dublin, with both seeking emerging local voices.

    Divisional heads
  • Katie Espiner

    Orion M.d.

    Orion made several significant poaches this year. Espiner and executive publisher Anna Valentine tempted Adam Kay from Picador with a seven-figure deal (his Dear NHS, and Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie, helped Orion’s sales soar 56% through BookScan between lockdowns), then Picador associate publisher Francesca Main moved over to launch Phoenix Books. The division’s commercial non-fiction lists grew when Hachette acquired Laurence King Publishing; its integration will be led by Bartley Shaw, its new publishing operations director.

    Divisional heads
  • Bernardine Evaristo

    Author

    Evaristo, long admired for her writing and her activism, last year became the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize. Her increased platform has seen her hold the industry to account in her FBF keynote speech, and in the Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing report, while also chairing the Women’s Prize 2021 judging panel and curating Hamish Hamilton’s new Black Britain: Writing Back series, picking up more accolades—including Author of the Year at the Nibbies—along the way. A screen deal for Girl, Woman, Other was also inked this year, so her star will rise further still.

    Authors & illustrators
  • Aimée Felone & David Stevens

    Knights Of Co-founders

    In three short years, Felone and Stevens have built their inclusivity-led children's publisher from plucky start-up to essential industry tastemaker by backing up their commendable ethos with standout publishing, including Sharna Jackson's High-Rise mystery series, Elle McNicoll's A Kind of Spark and Nic Stone's Clean Getaway. The duo have extended the model to open a Brixton-based independent bookshop, Round Table Books.

    Bosses New Entry
  • Larry Finlay

    Transworld M.d.

    The news that his bestselling author was passing the Jack Reacher baton to his brother must have caused Finlay a bit of disquiet, but so far, so good, with Lee and Andrew Child’s first collaboration selling well. Brands Bryson, Atkinson and Kinsella continued to perform, while new(ish) blood came in the form of Hallie Rubenhold’s Baillie Gifford-winning The Five. Meanwhile, Zara Sekhavati became the first recipient of The Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award, set up in memory of the late publicist.

    Divisional heads Evergreen
  • Rebecca Folland

    Hodder, Headline, John Murray, Quercus Rights director

    It has been a banner couple of years since Folland moved across from agency Janklow & Nesbit to her Hachette division-crossing team, with rights revenue jumping by a third and the 2020 Rights Professional of the Year Nibbie pocketed. The rights game has been challenging this year, and while the HHJQ team tackled that in the usual way (Zoom, etc) during the London and Frankfurt book fairs, it also cannily created a fun and clever #LondontoYou Twitter campaign to highlight its catalogue.

    Agents & rights
  • Anthony Forbes Watson

    Pan Macmillan C.e.o.

    Forbes Watson's Pan Mac is on a golden run, winning the Publisher of the Year Nibbie for the third time in the past six years, thanks to excellent publishing across the board and the success of Carole Tonkinson's Bluebird imprint. Paul Baggaley and Francesca Main left the firm, though Philip Gwyn Jones has come on board. The hotdesking style of its new offices meant Pan Mac was able to efficiently switch to homeworking through the lockdown, and Forbes Watson led a volunteer pay reduction for senior staff.

    Bosses Evergreen
  • Preena Gadher

    Riot Founder

    Despite the lack of events this year, Gadher and her team pivoted their approach to continue to make a splash for their literary clients. These include several awards—from the Desmond Elliott to the Royal Society Science Book Prize and CILIP Carnegie and Greenaway Medals—and projects ranging from new publications by Philip Pullman and Yuval Noah Harari, to Penguin’s 85th anniversary celebrations. Gadher continues to be a visible industry leader, speaking with PR Week and newsletter Female Leadership in Publishing about her work.

    PR, sales & marketing
  • Jonny Geller

    The Curtis Brown group C.e.o.

    The literary arm of Geller’s Curtis Brown celebrated a range of successes this year, with Karolina Sutton named Agent of the Year at the Nibbies, Jojo Moyes topping the charts with The Giver of Stars, and awards for Linda Grant and Dara McAnulty, who won the Wingate Literary Prize and the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing respectively. The agency also announced a move into the French market, led by Roxane Edouard and Claire Nozières, and promotions for Becky Brown and Lucy Morris.

    Agents & rights Evergreen
  • Diana Gerald

    BookTrust Chief executive

    “Getting books to families has always been important; now [it] is absolutely mission critical,” said Gerald in August. As such, BookTrust worked with 168 local authorities to distribute hundreds of thousands of free books across children’s and refuge centres, schools, libraries and food banks. It helped Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell to launch a digital hub to keep kids busy with schools closed, and a campaign promoting creatives of colour. It also continues to monitor ethnic representation in kids’ publishing.

    New Entry Trade Bodies
  • Ruth Gill

    Gill C.e.o.

    While trading has been constrained for Gill and the family firm in 2020, there have been bright spots for Ireland's biggest publisher. In lockdown, its schools division Gill Education provided free resources for teachers, parents and kids through its Gill Explore platform. The trade-facing arm Gill Books started the year with its out-of-the-park smash, slimming Instagrammers Gina and Karol Daly's The Daly Dish (a.k.a. the Irish Pinch of Nom), and in late November it won four An Post Irish Book Awards—the most ever by any homegrown publisher.

    Bosses
  • Jon Gray & Jamie Keenan

    ABCD Co-founders/freelance designers

    In addition to their sizeable in-trays as two of the industry’s go-to freelance designers, Gray and Keenan run the annual Academy of British Cover Designers awards; in effect, a peer-reviewed prize voted for by designers. Covid restrictions kiboshed the in-person knees-up this year, but the duo ran the awards online over the course of a week, announcing two winners a day on social channels. The pair dedicated this year’s awards to the late Ben North, former creative director of HarperCollins, who passed away in October.

    Designers
  • Peter Gray

    JS Group Chairman & c.e.o.

    It has been a period of strategic overhaul for Gray’s JS Group, with the disposal of its international business and the Hammicks legal division, plus the closure of some retail shops. JS is now focused almost exclusively on its Aspire Engage bursary card scheme and Aspire Connect, a blended physical and digital learning resources package; it has Aspire partnerships with 26 UK universities. Oh, and it still sells quite a few books through its campus shops, though the business has certainly evolved a lot from its origins as a Glasgow bookseller in 1751.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Meryl Halls

    Booksellers Association M.d.

    When Covid-19 hit, Halls marshalled the BA team to become a one-stop resource for booksellers: supporting a hardship fund, getting on top of government advice, producing social media materials and communicating with publishers. The BA later launched a £50,000 fund to help indies reopen, ensured Gardners could supply PPE, and acquired the Bertline electronic point-of-sale system following Bertrams’ collapse. FutureBook Person of the Year winner Halls also kept the bigger chains onside while pressing Bookshop.org to accelerate its UK move.

    Trade Bodies
  • Liam Hanly

    Eason C.e.o.

    The shockwaves throughout Irish bookselling at the beginning of this year were from Hanly’s Eason buying the indie mini-chain Dubray Books, in something akin to the Waterstones/Foyles deal. Hanly has pledged to operate Dubray as a separate entity, and though it is early doors, he has been true to his word, including keeping the well-respected Dubray m.d. Maria Dickenson in situ. Covid, though, has hurt Eason, with 150 redundancies in the summer and the closure of all seven of its shops in Northern Ireland.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • David Headley

    DHH Literary/Goldsboro Books Founder

    Cannily pivoting his Capital Crime festival into Covid-friendly subscription service The Capital Crime Book Club was another shrewd move for DHH Literary and Goldsboro Books’ Headley, who also inked solid deals for Icelandic bestseller Ragnar Jónasson and débutant David Fennell, and moved his Dome Press titles to Canelo. DHH sought new voices amid the pandemic with a virtual pitching day, while Harry Illingworth—whose client Stuart Turton is storming the bestseller lists—was made a director.

    Agents & rights Booksellers & distributors
  • Mandy Hill

    Cambridge University Press M.d., academic

    If there was a bright spot for Hill’s division during the pandemic, it was that the crisis helped with innovation, accelerating CUP’s digital plans to match the shifting demand of its customers, which included bringing forward the launch of a new e-textbook platform by six months. CUP pitched in during the crisis too, granting free access to a growing collection of coronavirus-related research on its Cambridge Core platform, and streamlining production processes so that it could upload the most up-to-date findings in less than 24 hours.

    Divisional heads
  • Jamie Hodder-Williams

    Hodder C.e.o.

    A lot of Hodder-Williams’ work since Hachette’s restructure a little over a year ago was in getting Hodder Studios—the new imprint that aims to “reimagine storytelling” across formats—up and running. It will not be your traditional imprint, emphasised by Hodder-Williams bringing former BBC controller for comedy Myfanwy Moore on board to run the list. Some of the storytelling experiments in train include a 90-minute “real-time” gardening audiobook by Alice Vincent, and Susie Donkin’s retelling of the Greek myths, Zeus is a Dick.

    Divisional heads
  • Andrew Holgate

    The Sunday Times Literary editor

    With the incessant moving of publication dates and a tightly packed autumn schedule, the literary editor’s lot has been tough this year. But Holgate’s the Sunday Times managed the tsunami of books in the run-up to Christmas with aplomb. The Nielsen BookScan-provided bestseller lists remain a draw, but the expansion of influence outside the pages, with prizes and festivals, continues apace: Irish writer Niamh Campbell won the £30,000 Sunday Times/Audible Short Story Award, while the Young Writer of the Year is crowned this month.

    Influencers
  • Emma Hopkin

    Bloomsbury M.d., consumer publishing

    The adult side of Hopkin’s consumer division came into the year off a strong 2019, and its hits included the Dishoom cookery book, Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women, and Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race—albeit for tragic reasons. Alison Hennessey’s Raven Books imprint found success with Stuart Turton’s second novel, while Paul Baggaley and Rowan Yapp moved from Picador and Square Peg respectively. Children’s sales increased too, by 18% to £29.8m, with strong demand for Harry Potter, as ever.

    Divisional heads
  • Laurence Howell

    Audible Vice-president, content

    As audio has boomed, Audible has expanded its own original content under Howell. The UK list is interesting in its scope. There are the expected can’t-miss projects with established stars, such as podcasts from French and Saunders and Alan Partridge’s “From the Oasthouse”, but also a concerted effort to commission titles that appeal to a younger, more experimental demographic, such as autumn hit “Hell Cats”, an LGBTQ pirate adventure by writer Carina Rodney starring Erin Doherty, a.k.a. Princess Anne of “The Crown”.

    Audio
  • Paul Hulley

    Clays C.e.o.

    What the pandemic drove home to many across the trade was the value of having efficient, tech-savvy printers in your back yard—not, say, across the globe in the midst of travel restrictions. UK publishers increasingly looked to Hulley’s Clays for support: one week in March, for example, the Bungay-based business printed 4.5 million units, the sort of level it normally produces in the run-up to Christmas. It has not been easy, though, as the team had to experiment with flexible hours and different workflows to accommodate safety restrictions.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Julian Humphries

    4th Estate Art director

    Arguably the biggest cover design commission of 2020 fell to Humphries, who was charged with the livery for Hilary Mantel’s much-anticipated The Mirror & The Light. The result, a bold rework of historical fiction tropes to appeal to a broader audience, no doubt played a role in the title’s success and in its ability to command a hefty average selling price upon release, and was rolled out across the two preceding titles in Mantel’s trilogy to create a united identity for the Cromwell titles, as well as her later Mantel Pieces. A success, no doubt.

    Designers
  • Steven Inchcoombe

    Springer Nature Chief publishing officer

    In charge of the STM giant’s research publishing, Inchcoombe’s remit is to strategise around what’s coming next. He believes the pandemic may have cleared the way for a new revenue stream in academic publishing, as the rush to find a vaccine has led researchers to publish on pre-print platforms which circumvent the often lengthy peer-review process. Inchcoombe calls this the “third phase” of academic publishing, and in October Springer Nature acquired a majority stake in biology preprint platform Research Square.

    Divisional heads
  • Dotti Irving

    Four Culture C.e.o.

    Irving would probably get a space on this list solely for her and her team’s—led by co-m.d.s Matt Railton and Truda Spruyt—astute handling of the Booker Prize in this pandemic year, as it helped to build the main award globally (getting a beloved former US president at the virtual ceremony was a coup) and widen the footprint of its international gong. But Four Culture’s influence in the books world runs far deeper, from the Baillie Gifford Prize, to English PEN.

    Evergreen PR, sales & marketing
  • Simon Johnson

    Amazon Director, EU Books

    How much has Amazon increased its share of the UK books market? And have readers’ buying habits tilted so irrevocably to online, that they will largely remain there even after normality returns? Those are surely the most pressing questions for the trade during this unprecedented year, and the ramifications will be felt for years to come. In the end, though, Amazon is lucky to have the switched-on former HarperCollins man Johnson, who was promoted from UK manager to his current Europe-wide role this year, leading its books team.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Jackie Kay

    Author & Scots Makar

    Kay’s final year as Scots Makar (Scotland’s national poet) started on a high, when she received a CBE in the New Year’s Honours. In the first lockdown, she produced poetic responses to the situation, and launched a weekly series of free online literary and musical performances, both to entertain the audience and to support the participating artists financially. In addition to this, she continued working on a range of writing projects, including a biography of blues singer Bessie Smith (publishing with Faber Social in February).

    Authors & illustrators New Entry
  • Maureen Kennelly

    Arts Council of Ireland Director

    “Spending efficiently but wisely” was Kennelly’s mantra when put in charge of the Irish government’s cultural Covid-19 response—and a speedy release of funding was largely applauded in the arts community. As a former head of Poetry Ireland, Kennelly knows how crucial it was for the literature, publishing and festival sectors. ACI is arguably more bookish than UK arts bodies, with backing for publishers such as Little Island and The Stinging Fly, and it is a key funder for the fiction and children’s laureates.

    New Entry Trade Bodies
  • Molly Ker Hawn

    The Bent Agency Agent

    Ker Hawn established the UK outpost of Jenny Bent’s New York-headquartered firm eight years ago, and has shaped it into one of the best agencies in town, with a pool of agenting talent including Sarah Hornsley, Zoe Plant, Nicola Barr and Gemma Cooper (who was made a director this year). Recent deals for the agency include John Barlow’s crime brace to HQ (Barr), Polly Philip’s début to S&S (Hornsley) and Ker Hawn’s own Blackout, a collaboration between six Black YA stars, to Electric Monkey.

    Agents & rights New Entry
  • Charlie King

    Little, Brown book group M.d.

    Little, Brown thrived in between the lockdowns, selling 2.58 million books and earning £21.7m through BookScan, up a whopping 72% in volume year on year. Bestsellers included Delia Owens’ first novel Where the Crawdads Sing, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight follow-up Midnight Sun and Robert Galbraith’s controversial Troubled Blood. Big acquisitions included winning a 12-way auction for Ant and Dec’s memoir, while imprints Sphere and Piatkus launched the Fresh Ink Award to champion underrepresented voices in the romance genres.

    Divisional heads
  • Richard Kitson

    Hachette Deputy c.e.o.

    While the commissioning editors or imprint bosses get most of the column inches, Kitson’s sure handling of the less glamorous (or, more properly, less public-facing) side of the business is the backbone of Hachette’s work. For example, he oversees Ben Groves-Raines’ trade operations unit that makes data and information readily available across divisions. In February, Kitson brought in Alex Hardy in the newly created role of legal (business affairs) director, which is a widening of the previous group contracts director position.

    Divisional heads
  • Helgard Krause

    Books Council of Wales C.e.o.

    The year began well for the Books Council of Wales (BCW), as new government agency Creative Wales identified publishing as central to its strategy to drive growth across the country’s creative industries, and awarded BCW significant funding. As the lockdown took effect, Krause and her team worked with publishers, booksellers and distributors to offer advice and practical support, and liaised with the Welsh government, administering a £150,000 emergency fund on its behalf to help publishers and booksellers in need.

    Trade Bodies
  • Marcus Leaver

    Welbeck Executive publisher

    A year and a half on from acquiring and renaming Carlton Books, there is the sense that Leaver and his fellow executive publisher Mark Smith are moving in their desired direction. Jane Harris was the latest to join the top team to lead the children's list, with a new kids' fiction imprint, Welbeck Flame, will be launching in January. In June, Welbeck bought the assets of wellness publisher Eddison Books, while key acquisitions include Wendy HoldenÕs novel of the life of Princess Diana, and a Òfrontline Covid-19Ó memoir from Dr Dominic Pimenta.

    Bosses
  • Sara Lloyd

    Pan Macmillan Digital & communications director

    Lloyd has contributed mightily to Pan Mac's decade-long resurgence by sharpening and honing its digital, audience insight, communications and publicity teams. With Anna Bond's departure to Hachette in the summer, Lloyd broadened her responsibilities by adding Bond's author brand development role to her portfolio. Though the pandemic has made her side of the business more challenging, she told this year's FutureBook conference that there were upsides to remote working, including eradicating "presenteeism" and opportunities for more regional diversity. This year Lloyd also became the executive sponsor for diversity and inclusion at Pan Macmillan.

    PR, sales & marketing
  • Katy Loftus

    Viking Publisher

    Loftus has had a transformative effect on Viking's fiction publishing since joining five years ago, deftly marrying commercial and literary success. But she has been in a particular purple patch of late. Last year had standouts: Tana French's The Wych Elm (the author was lured from Hodder) and Sara Collins' Costa First Novel winner, The Confessions of Franny Langton. But in 2020 Loftus has kicked into an even higher gear, led by "Pointless" star Richard Osman's all-conquering The Thursday Murder Club.

    Commissioners New Entry
  • Stephen Lotinga

    Publishers Association C.e.o.

    As well as speaking out on issues affecting the trade during the pandemic, this year Lotinga worked closely with the government on what the industry needs from a post-Brexit US/UK trade deal, and announced a 25% discount in PA membership fees for small publishers. It ramped up its campaign for VAT to be zero-rated on audiobooks, while there was good news when the chancellor fast-tracked the scrapping of VAT on digital publications. It also unveiled a brand redesign, and welcomed Taylor & Francis' Annie Callanan as its president.

    Trade Bodies
  • Sharmaine Lovegrove

    Dialogue Books Publisher

    This year, Lovegrove signed the first book from actor Paterson Joseph, launched a virtual book club during the pandemic, and judged the PEN Pinter Prize. Award recognition for Dialogue titles abounded, with shortlistings for the Gordon Burn, Jhalak, Desmond Elliott and Polari First Book prizes, as well as Waterstones Book of the Year, while Irenosen Okojie's Nudibranch won the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing. She also continued to be a champion for demystifying the industry, and inclusivity, co-founding the Black Writers' Guild.

    Commissioners
  • Juliet Mabey & Novin Doostdar

    Oneworld Co-founders

    A big year for the husband-and-wife owners of the indie powerhouse—and not just because Mabey bagged an OBE. There was a Women's Prize longlisting, no less than seven titles up for the International Dublin Literary Award, and two Booker longlistees, with Diane Cook's The New Wilderness making the shortlist. A major acquisition was New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's biography, while 2019 Women's Prize winner Tayari Jones' Silver Sparrow was selected for the Richard & Judy Christmas Book Club.

    Bosses
  • Anna MacLaren May

    Bonnier Books UK Human resources director

    One of MacLaren May's first initiatives after joining Bonnier two years ago was to introduce a BAME internship scheme, boost interns' salaries and move to anonymised online applications in order to tackle unconscious bias in recruitment. It typifies the fresh thinking she has brought to the role, at a time when the trade is re-evaluating hiring and retention practices, as well as diversity and gender pay gaps. Through the pandemic, her focus has been ensuring home-working staff are well supported.

    Divisional heads New Entry
  • Oli Malcolm

    Harper NonFiction, Avon & HarperNorth Executive publisher

    It's been five years since Malcolm moved from HC sales director to the editorial side, but that sales nous remains: if there is a commonality of the three divisions he oversees, it is a blend of creativity and commerciality. Avon won this year's Imprint of the Year Nibbie partly because of its rock-solid foundation of sales in its supermarket and digital heartland, as well as its clever marketing to find new readers. Manchester-based division HarperNorth is the next challenge.

    Divisional heads New Entry
  • Perminder Mann

    Bonnier Books UK C.e.o.

    While many lamented the challenges posed by the pandemic, Mann was more positive. She recently reported that year-to-date the business is tracking just 15% behind its initial budget, and noted improvements in her company's approach to selling online and flexible working. Indeed, Bonnier announced that all staff will be able to work up to three days a week from home going forward. It also committed to conducting detailed research into the demographic make-up of its staff and authors, and to becoming carbon neutral by 2021.

    Bosses
  • Ziyad Marar

    SAGE President, global publishing

    With long-time UK head honcho Stephen Barr retiring and c.o.o. Katherine Jackson moving on at the end of the year, SAGE is restructuring, with Marar stepping up to a new world-spanning role, adding Barr's sales team to his current editorial, production and marketing portfolio. Marar will be aided by Karen Phillips, who will lead the London office. Barr leaves a UK side that posted its best-ever performance in its last set of accounts, which reported that revenue was up 9% to £163.5m, and pre-tax profit climbed 51% to £17.8m.

    Bosses New Entry
  • Tracey Markham

    Audible UK country manager

    The eye-popping growth continues at Audible, with revenue of £143.6m in its 2019 accounts, a rise of 27%. That figure will mushroom in 2020, as audio has been a go-to format for consumers during the pandemic. The year has also seen Audible partner with a number of organisations to produce virtual events, from Cheltenham, to publisher Jacaranda's upcoming online festival. It hasn't been all plain sailing: a furious royalties row over Audible's returns policy erupted this autumn, with the e-tailer eventually changing its policy.

    Audio
  • Florentyna Martin

    Waterstones Children's buyer

    There is a decent argument that Waterstones kids' supremo Martin is the most influential person in not just children's books retail, but children's books full stop. Even in the pandemic Waterstones has retained its enviable share of the children's market, and Martin's astute selections, trend anticipations and Book of the Month nods can make bestsellers overnight. She has made the Waterstones Children's Book Prize—apologies Kate Greenaway and Carnegie—the sector's most sought-after British-based literary gong.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Sarah McIntyre

    Illustrator

    Alongside her #PictureMeansBusiness campaign pushing for credit for illustrators (a win for this included PLR releasing a list of top illustrators in addition to its author equivalent this summer), McIntyre supported other initiatives, such as fellow illustrator Dapo Adeola's open letter to the BBC and publisher SelfMadeHero's #DrawOurBookshops challenge. She was also made a patron of the School Library Association, co-hosted the virtual 2020 Children's Book Award ceremony with Philip Reeve, and launched an online shop selling greeting cards and original art.

    Authors & illustrators
  • Fiona McMorrough

    FMcM Founder

    In an altered landscape, McMorrough and her team continued to drum up buzz for its literary roster, which features gongs from the Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award, to the British Book Awards and Rathbones Folio Prize. Other projects this year included working with the University of East Anglia, on the 50th anniversary of its pioneering Creative Writing MA, and World Book Day (WBD), which saw hundreds of thousands of children and schools participate in new WBD c.e.o. Cassie Chadderton's inaugural year.

    PR, sales & marketing
  • Caroline Michel

    PFD C.e.o.

    This year, PFD took on translation rights on behalf of David Godwin Associates. It countered Frankfurt's cancellation with a virtual event for authors to interact with international contacts. Meanwhile, Laura Robertson was promoted, Kate Evans joined the books department as an agent, and Sam Brace stepped up as publisher at digital-first list Agora Books. Michel struck big deals for former FT editor Lionel Barber, broadcaster June Sarpong and ex-Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and stepped up for the Hay Festival in its recent rocky patch.

    Agents & rights
  • Madeleine Milburn

    Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency Founder

    The year began with a move into a shiny new Clapham office for Milburn's agency. Further developments saw dedicated dramatic rights agent Hannah Ladds join; the launch of a writers' mentorship programme; its first graphic novel sale; a BBC adaption of C J Tudor's The Chalk Man was announced; and prizes for Holly Bourne and Poonam Mistry. Milburn struck several big deals and was shortlisted for Agent of the Year at the Nibbies, while Liane-Louise Smith was nominated in the Rights Professional field.

    Agents & rights
  • Lisa Milton

    HQ M.d.

    Poaching fitness guru Joe Wicks in a gargantuan multi-book deal for adult lifestyle and children's titles capped a stellar year for Milton's in-form HarperCollins division. The year also saw another poach in the form of Erica James, in a three-book deal (reuniting her with former editor Kate Mills); winning a 14-way auction for Claudia Winkleman's memoir (won by Kate Fox); the launch of Mills & Boon e-book subscription service We Love Romance; and a Costa debut novel shortlisting for Sairish Hussain's The Family Tree.

    Divisional heads
  • Louise Moore

    Michael Joseph M.d.

    It's been another great year for Moore and her division. Mrs Hinch continued her record-breaking streak with two number ones, The Little Book of Lists and memoir This is Me—which would have topped the charts with pre-orders alone. Jamie Oliver's 7 Ways soared to the top of the bestseller chart and Marian Keyes' latest novel Grown Ups reached topped the fiction charts in five countries. Moore also won a hotly contested auction for Philip Schofield's memoir, and oversaw the publication of the third instalment in Stephen Fry's Greek myths series.

    Divisional heads
  • Kate Mosse

    Women's Prize for Fiction Chair & co-founder/author

    In its 25th year, the Women's Prize introduced an online book club promoting past winners; a first-time writer development competition with Curtis Brown; free e-book editions of classics originally published under a male pseudonym, released with their female writers' real names; and a crowdfunded 25th-anniversary anthology from Unbound. Its Winner of Winners public vote was won by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, and this year's victor, Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell, received a 266% sales boost in the week of its win.

    Authors & illustrators Fairs & Festivals
  • Hilary Murray Hill

    Hachette Children's Group C.e.o.

    Under Murray Hill, Hachette's children's division spearheaded the company's move to its Manchester office as Emma Layfield took on the role of picture book development director, North, while in London the picture book team was bolstered by the arrival of former Bloomsbury staffers Emma Blackburn and Elaine Connolly. Sales-wise, HCG sold 1.8 million books through BookScan between lockdowns—a 31% jump year on year. A significant contributor was the release of bestselling Twilight companion title Midnight Sun.

    Divisional heads
  • Ann-Janine Murtagh

    HarperCollins Children's Books Executive publisher

    Murtagh, along with colleague Lisa Milton, scored big this summer, signing fitness guru Joe Wicks in a deal that includes picture books and activity books for young readers. Other big scoops for HCCB this year included new titles from Oliver Jeffers and David Baddiel, and a multi-book deal with illustrator Steven Lenton. There were four new books from the division's bestseller David Walliams and his collaborators, Tony Ross and new illustrator Adam Stower. In the period between lockdowns HCCB's BookScan sales were up 20.5% year on year.

    Divisional heads
  • Juliet Mushens

    Mushens Entertainment Literary agent & founder

    After three years working with Robert Caskie in their joint agency, Mushens went solo, hiring Silé Edwards from Curtis Brown to help grow her venture. She has struck a number of six-figure deals for débuts, but her biggest coup was the success of client Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club, the fastest-selling adult crime début since BookScan records began. Mushens has negotiated a deal with Viking for two more books in the series, and Steven Spielberg's production company snapped up film rights.

    Agents & rights New Entry
  • Nigel Newton

    Bloomsbury C.e.o.

    The year got off to a rousing start for Newton, as he was honoured with the LBF Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite concerns when Covid-19 hit, the indie recently revealed its highest first-half earnings since 2008 thanks to higher online book sales and e-book revenues, with year-on-year profit growth of 60%. Bestsellers came from Reni Eddo-Lodge, Sarah J Maas and Kiley Reid, and Newton says the firm is "well positioned for the future", predicting an "absolutely brilliant" Christmas.

    Bosses Evergreen
  • Chantal Noel

    Penguin Random House Group rights director

    The boss of the UK's biggest rights-trading entity had her remit increased at the tail end of the year, with a centralising restructure which pulled the disparate divisional teams under one roof. This was not a cost-cutting measure—head count actually increased—but the idea was to make the team more nimble, a strategy that seemed remarkably prescient given the changes wrought by Covid. Noel's group met the pandemic difficulties with innovation, using all the digital tools to hand: for example, author Zoom calls to pitch their books to international clients.

    Agents & rights
  • Clarissa Pabi

    Acast Content development manager, UK

    In May, Pabi exhorted publishers to think about podcasts and this new audience. Some in the trade are wary of how podcast rights are divvied up, but Pabi is right to focus on the listener. Having graduated via PRH and Bonnier, and produced the "Mostly Lit" podcast, she is now "one the most important women in podcasting today", according to Acast m.d. Georgie Holt. But her ambitions extend beyond just one format: she also sits on the advisory boards for Creative Access and the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

    Audio New Entry PR, sales & marketing
  • Ra Page

    Comma Press Founder & c.e.o.

    Comma had a mixed start to the year: it was the Nibbies' Small Press of the Year winner for the North England region, but saw trade sales plummet during lockdown. It later received a £50,000 Manchester Culture Fund grant to expand its writer development programme and deliver new literary translation workshops, and successfully moved its National Creative Writing Industry Day online. Page also leads the Northern Fiction Alliance, which partnered with the PA on a series of online workshops.

    Bosses New Entry
  • Stephen Page

    Faber C.e.o.

    Faber just reported another strong year in its annual results (to the end of March), with the second-best turnover in the company’s history and increased profits, bolstered by Sally Rooney and its Academy’s most successful year. Page says Faber’s performance for 2020 to date is “strong”, while elsewhere, Louisa Joyner was promoted to associate publisher, Angus Cargill was made publishing director, and Faber Children’s launched a new website. And an adaptation of Rooney’s début is on the way...

    Bosses Evergreen
  • Donna Payne

    Faber Creative director

    Art direction at a publisher with arguably the most distinct visual identity in the UK is no easy task in normal times. Throw in a brand refresh in its 90th year, and it becomes a tad more daunting. Payne led the switch to a familiar yet fresh rework across the Faber brand and its iconic colophon, using the typeface Pegasus, designed by one of her precedessors, Berthold Wolpe. A passionate advocate for design mentoring and a more inclusive creative industry, she also judged this year’s D&AD and FAB prizes. Up next? Overseeing the new Ishiguro...

    Designers
  • David Pearson

    typeasimage Founder

    Central Saint Martins graduate Pearson learned the ropes at Penguin, initially as a text designer before switching to covers. The apprenticeship was vital as, since going freelance in 2007, the designer has used letterforms and typography as the main vehicle to design book jackets. This is evident in his output in 2020, led by another impressive bunch of Penguin’s Great Ideas, which returned after a decade’s hiatus. His eight jackets for John le Carré’s Smiley Collection (also Penguin) are equally masterful.

    Designers New Entry
  • Peter Phillips

    Cambridge University Press C.e.o.

    Phillips has helped orchestrate one of the biggest moves in the 435-year-old press’ history in its proposed merger with exams body Cambridge Assessment. When finalised in August 2021, Philps will run a group with revenues of around £750m, more than double CUP’s current turnover. Yet some CUP staff have voiced concern about merger-related redundan- cies. In brighter news, CUP continued to build its trade(ish) list, including a middle-grade title on body image from Dr Charlotte Markey, and an anthology of essays about Bob Dylan.

    Bosses
  • Nick Poole

    CILIP Director

    It was another challenging year for libraries, but many found innovative ways to reach their communities, and Poole has emphasised the importance of retaining these new online audiences. Activity around CILIP’s Carnegie Greenaway Awards pivoted online, and the organisation launched a daily YouTube broadcast featuring book recommendations from professional librarians. CILIP has also worked with Libraries Connected to support its Toolkit, which would enable libraries to reintroduce in-person services.

    Trade Bodies
  • Cally Poplak

    Egmont M.d.

    The big news for Egmont this year was the acquisition of its books arm by HarperCollins. Poplak remains at the helm of the distinct children’s division, joining the HC UK executive committee. In other news, the publisher snapped up a new illustrated fiction series by Laura Ellen Anderson, published a Matt Lucas charity fundraiser picture book (and landed four more of his titles), and launched the Power Rangers Beast Morphers with Hasbro. It also saw début author Holly Jackson win Children’s Fiction Book of the Year at the Nibbies.

    Divisional heads
  • Nigel Portwood

    Oxford University Press C.e.o.

    Another tidy return for the world’s biggest university press: OUP posted revenues of £844.9m and profit of £85.6m in its 2019/20 financial year, a return that would have been gaudier still were it not for the pandemic. Its Covid response was commendably swift, with resources being made free across education, academic and journals, while its marketing and publicity teams responded to the “new normal”: its English Language Teaching Online Conference, for example, had over 15,000 attendees.

    Bosses Evergreen
  • Polly Powell

    Quarto Group c.e.o.

    Powell returns to this list after five years, having previously featured as boss of illustrated publisher Pavilion. While there is a gulf in scale between Pavilion and the circa-$140m turnover (and publicly traded) Quarto, the core non-fiction, illustrated and children’s subjects are similar—precisely the reason Powell was brought in as an adviser a year ago. And in under 12 months, she has moved from UK c.e.o. to global chief. Covid has hit revenues, though operating profit doubled and the base business—including a good UK performance—is solid.

    Bosses
  • David Prescott

    Blackwell’s C.e.o.

    Coming into 2020, all the signs suggested that Prescott’s Blackwell’s was heading in the right direction, with three consecutive years of revenue growth (hitting £58.3m), though it still posted a £0.9m loss in its latest results. But the pandemic has been difficult, with the chain forced to shut five of its campus branches, and make a handful of further redundancies across the estate. The bright side has been a compelling online offer, which kept sales ticking over during both lockdowns, and an innovative series of online events.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Marcus Rashford

    Manchester United Footballer, reading advocate

    Rashford has emerged as one of the finest voices of his generation, using his vast social media platform to force the government into not one, but two u-turns over its free schools meals policy. But it is his advocacy around books and reading that brings him to this list. He has signed with Macmillan Children’s Books to launch a book club, and will publish three titles, beginning in May 2021. As he wrote on social media: “Reading is cool. Books are cool. That’s it. That’s the tweet.” He shoots, he scores.

    Influencers New Entry
  • Belinda Rasmussen

    Macmillan Children’s M.d.

    Between the lockdowns, Macmillan Children’s saw a sales bump of 14.7% in volume year on year. The division also scored several exciting deals this year, winning a seven-way auction for middle-grade and picture books from Sir Lenny Henry and signing Marcus Rashford MBE for a range of books, and a book club partnership. Digital activity included a series of summer broadcasts via the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts and a virtual festival featuring the likes of Baroness Floella Benjamin, Chris Riddell and Nikita Gill—all MCB artists.

    Divisional heads
  • Charlie Redmayne

    HarperCollins C.e.o.

    Redmayne’s firm performed well this year, selling eight million books between lockdowns, a 20.6% rise year on year. There were several job moves: Nancy Adimora took on a new role to reach authors and readers from underserved communities; Alex Beecroft became m.d. of Collins Learning; and Kimberley Young was promoted to executive publisher for HarperFiction, with Kate Elton stepping up, too. HC also acquired Egmont Books UK, opened its HarperNorth office in Manchester and launched an academy for authors of colour.

    Bosses
  • Joel Rickett

    Ebury M.d.

    Rickett, once of this parish, has been Ebury boss for two years, implementing structural changes such as grouping editorial, publishing and marketing together in “tighter, audience-focused hubs”, winding down the fiction list, and launching a business imprint, Ebury Edge. And it’s been a remarkable run at the tills, helped by Jack Fairweather’s Costa winner The Volunteer, Yotam Ottolenghi and, most of all, Charlie Macksey’s 2019 Christmas smash The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

    Divisional heads New Entry
  • Sally Rooney

    Author

    Did anything unite the nation in Lockdown 1.0 like Connell’s chain? The adaptation of Rooney’s Normal People—written by the author and playwright Alice Birch, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson—was one of the few non-repeats of the spring schedule, with Marianne and Connell stealing Millennial hearts. And so, the 2019-published paperback edition zoomed into the UK top spot for the first time. The gang will be back next year with Birch and Abrahamson’s adaptation of Rooney’s début, Conversations with Friends.

    Authors & illustrators New Entry
  • L J Ross

    Author

    Ross is arguably the UK’s most successful self-published author, and her bold move, in a bid to get her titles not just on the Kindle publishing platform, but into physical bookshops, was to set up her own publisher. She did have offers from traditional houses, but opted to create Dark Skies to retain that indie-author control. The gamble has done the business, with her titles stocked across indies, chains and supermarkets, and her books—particularly the DCI Ryan series—fixtures in The Bookseller’s Small Publishers and Heatseekers charts.

    Authors & illustrators New Entry
  • Andy Rossiter

    Rossiter Books/Booksellers Association Co-owner/president

    Rossiter and his wife Victoria have astutely built a mini-empire of three award-winning shops, in Ross-on-Wye, Monmouth and Leominster. Rossiter’s bookselling career stretches back almost 20 years with Waterstones and Ottakar’s, and he brings that experience to the BA, assuming the presidency in arguably the most testing time in its history. A forceful advocate for shops during the lockdown restrictions, he helped with the BA’s acquisition of Bertline, and has been an enthusiastic proponent of Bookshop.org.

    Booksellers & distributors New Entry Trade Bodies
  • J K Rowling

    Author

    There are few authors who attract as much news-print (and ire) as J K Rowling; much of it in 2020 centred on her views on gender, which in turn caused problems both for her publisher Hachette and agent, Neil Blair. Yet her books are still flying off the shelves: the Potter brand is as strong as ever, and her latest Robert Galbraith novel hit number one in its début week. She also won a Nibbie—Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone picked up the 30from30 award, for the most influential book published in the past 30 years, at the British Book Awards.

    Authors & illustrators
  • Elaina Ryan

    Children’s Books Ireland Director

    Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) was busier than ever in 2020. The inauguration of Ireland’s new Children’s Laureate moved online, as did its 30th Book of the Year Awards. CBI got shortlistees to record content for schools, and broadcast the winners’ announcement on YouTube. As well as ramping up the resources on its website, it produced a free activity book which was shared with hundreds of thousands of families, and distributed books to children in asylum seeker accommodation, hospitals and homeless services.

    New Entry Trade Bodies
  • Dr Anamik Saha & Dr Sandra Van Lente

    Academics

    In 2017, The Bookseller began a conversation with Saha that culminated in the launch, three years later, of Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing, co-written with Van Lente. There have been reports into publishing’s lack of inclusion before, but there was something definitive about this one: it didn’t just describe the problem, its academic approach dissected it from the inside, and presented a road-map for change. Launched in the summer in partnership with Spread the Word and Goldsmiths, University of London, the report was emphatic. The time to implement its advice is now.

    Influencers New Entry
  • Axel Scheffler

    Illustrator

    During the first lockdown, Scheffler partnered with Nosy Crow on a free digital (and later print) book about coronavirus, which was downloaded 1.5 million times and scooped in a FutureBook Award. He also contributed to free children’s collection The Book of Hopes, and his latest with Julia Donaldson, The Smeds and the Smoos, was the bestselling picture book between lockdowns, shifting almost 100,000 copies. An adaptation of their Zog and the Flying Doctors will air on the BBC this Christmas, and a TV series based on Scheffler’s Pip and Posy series with Camilla Reid is in the works too.

    Authors & illustrators
  • Aki Schilz

    The Literary Consultancy Director

    In addition to her work at The Literary Consultancy—which this year saw her found a new membership community platform, offering digital content to help writers develop their creativity and emotional resilience—Schilz has inspired change with her #BookJobTransparency campaign, urging publishers to be upfront about salaries when advertising vacancies. Schilz has also been vocally joined by former Quercus editor Niamh Mulvey, whose blogs on low pay and transparency also hit a nerve this year.

    Influencers New Entry
  • Rosemary Scoular

    United Agents Head of books

    United Agents clients were nominated for a host of literary prizes this year, with wins for Nino Haratischvili (Warwick Prize for Women in Translation), Lara Maiklem (Indie Book Award for Non-Fiction), Amrou Al-Kadhi (Somerset Maugham Award) and George Szirtes (James Tait Black Prize in biography). Notable deals included Macmillan signing a new middle-grade trilogy from Rob Biddulph, while the 25th anniversary of His Dark Materials saw client Philip Pullman release new publishing, and a second series of the BBC’s adaption.

    Agents & rights
  • Asi Sharabi

    Wonderbly C.e.o.

    While not exactly pandemic-proof, as a direct-to-consumer online business Sharabi’s Wonderbly may not have suffered as much as others in the children’s sector. Indeed, the personalised books business has continued to thrive with another year of innovation. The big launch was rolling out Wonderbly Studios, its personalised publishing platform for companies and brands, which enables other IP owners to create books—its début partnership was with Wizarding World Digital, which offered Harry Potter fans a personalised journal.

    Bosses
  • David Shelley

    Hachette C.e.o.

    Hachette last month reported a stellar third quarter, with year-on-year growth of 15.6% and record revenue from e-books and audio. The business diversified with the acquisition of Laurence King Publishing and the announcement of five new regional offices. As part of its work around inclusion, the publisher partnered with All About Trans, released its second Ethnicity Pay Gap Report and launched a free fiction development programme for authors of colour. It also announced new measures promoting transparency around pay.

    Bosses
  • Bridget Shine

    Independent Publishers Guild C.e.o.

    In a tough year for indies, the IPG did all it could to provide them with practical help, from sharing advice and resources, to launching a podcast and a buddy scheme. Shine remained optimistic about the sector’s resilience, and the IPG held virtual versions of its awards, and both its spring and autumn conferences. The organisation continued to grow, with a new licensing agreement with the Singapore Book Publishers Association, and it will take over the running of the Publishing Training Centre next year.

    Trade Bodies
  • Marion Sinclair

    Publishing Scotland C.e.o.

    Sinclair and her team stepped up their efforts to support Scotland’s book trade this year, from surveying members about the impact of Covid-19, to bidding for government funding on their behalf. They used digital channels to communicate vital information with publishers, share reading lists and arrange virtual events. They also continued to promote Scottish books worldwide, awarding more international publishers funding for the translation of Scottish writers, and made a documentary highlighting the country’s nature writing (for the virtual Frankfurt).

    Trade Bodies
  • Kate Skipper

    Waterstones C.o.o.

    The Waterstones second-in-command has done a commendable job managing what has been an incredibly difficult time in 2020’s bookselling feast and famine. The famine has been well documented, with two lockdowns and a huge hit in revenues leading to the closure of a handful of branches, and a cull of 16 jobs at the retailer’s head office in September. But even the feast of those months of roaring sales post-Lockdown 1.0 had to be astutely co-ordinated, with safety measures and hygiene equipment put in place to safeguard staff and customers.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Nicola Solomon

    Society of Authors Chief executive

    Solomon and her team worked tirelessly this year to support writers, joining forces with other trade bodies in the spring to administer a £330,000 Authors’ Contingency Fund. Later in the year, it launched a digital festival, featuring Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood, to help raise a further £400,000 for the fund. The organisation also met with government ministers to discuss measures for self-employed workers during the pandemic and conducted three surveys about the impact of the lockdown on authors’ earnings.

    Trade Bodies
  • Miles Stevens-Hoare

    W F Howes Director & general manager

    Stevens-Hoare’s Leicester-based indie audio publisher and library supplier entered 2020 in fine fettle, with its latest accounts showing record revenue of a smidge under £14m and profit just over £1m. W F Howes is no Johnny-come-lately surfing a cresting audio wave, but a pioneer: the business just celebrated its 21st anniversary. A production highlight was Polly Samson’s A Theatre of Dreams, narrated by the author with music by her husband, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, which was recorded in the duo’s home studio during lockdown.

    Audio
  • Stormzy

    #Merkybooks Imprint boss

    Stormzy’s PRH imprint #MerkyBooks grew this year, earning its first major gong as Derek Owusu’s semi-autobiographical novel That Reminds Me picked up the Desmond Elliott Prize. Commissioning editor Lemara Lindsay-Prince settled into her role, launching a new series of practical pocket-sized How To… guides. The imprint also brought back its New Writers’ Prize to find emerging talent, and recently hired assistant editor Tallulah Lyons to support its publishing. It was shortlisted for Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award, too.

    Influencers
  • Melanie Tansey

    Hachette UK Group HR director

    Tansey continued to spearhead positive changes to Hachette UK’s working practices, with the publisher selected as one of the Times’ Top 50 Employers for Women 2020, while its Gender Balance Network won an award for Employee Network Group of the Year. In the summer, it released its second Ethnicity Pay Gap Report and subsequently revealed an action plan sharing what it is doing to address diversity and inclusion. Last month came a raft of new measures to bring more transparency to how pay is calculated, awarded and communicated.

    Divisional heads
  • Marianne Tatepo

    Ebury & Pop Press/Black Agents & Editors’ group Commissioning editor/founder

    Following the surge of support for the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, Tatepo launched the Black Agents & Editors’ Group (BAE), a community for UK-based editors and agents of African descent. BAE shared a list of tangible steps it believes the industry needs to take to become truly anti-racist, and has plans to start a mentoring programme, so prospective publishing applicants can learn about the trade from those with similar backgrounds.

    Commissioners New Entry Trade Bodies
  • David Taylor

    Ingram/Lightning Source Senior vice-president content acquisition, international

    With a supply chain compromised for a good part of the year—both from Covid and the collapse of Bertrams—the essential role that print-on-demand can play for the industry was dramatically underscored. Taylor’s Lighting Source, the UK industry standard-bearer, has seen demand soar during the year, including from publishers who had been reluctant to put titles on p.o.d. Safety and hygiene measures were taken to keep the lights on and the books flowing.

    Booksellers & distributors Evergreen
  • Hannah Telfer

    Penguin Random House M.d., audiences and audio

    Telfer has been directly involved in PRH’s digital side for nearly a decade, first as a digital marketer and then in a variety of roles across consumer insight, audience development and audio. So there may be something of a step-change when she moves across to Vintage next year to succeed outgoing m.d. Richard Cable. Or maybe not, as those processes Telfer has perfected in her current role have been integrated across PRH. But she will inherit a division in fine fettle, laden with superstar authors such as Yuval Noah Harari, Margaret Atwood and Nigella Lawson.

    Divisional heads
  • Carole Tonkinson

    Bluebird Publisher

    Another standout year for the reigning British Book Awards Editor of the Year, bolstered by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone’s Pinch of Nom empire. Tonkinson’s strategic nous was shown by the decision to release the Pinch of Nom “January 2020” title in mid-December 2019. The move was counter to received publishing wisdom (a diet book for Christmas?), but the title shifted 130,000 copies in its début week. Losing Joe Wicks to HQ was a blow, but there has been the launch of sustainability imprint One Boat to plug the gap.

    Commissioners
  • Robert Topping

    Topping & Co Owner

    Topping & Co’s Edinburgh branch, which opened last September, was already embedded within the Scottish trade by the start of the year. In March, all five of the company’s stores closed and the majority of its 50-strong workforce was furloughed. Thanks to a £250,000 loan, it was able to pay for stock during this period. It announced that its Bath shop will move to a listed Georgian building, with stock expansion and more literary events planned. Topping said that while this year has been “tough”, he remains “very optimistic about the future”.

    Booksellers & distributors
  • Jeremy Trevathan

    Pan Macmillan Adult publisher

    Personnel moves over the past 12 months at Trevanthan’s Pan Mac division have been plentiful, with Picador powerhouses Paul Baggaley and Francesca Main leaving (Main’s star author, Adam Kay, moved to Orion), while Philip Gwyn Jones succeeded Baggaley and ex-Hodder deputy c.e.o. Lucy Hale joined Pan as publisher. The big brands (Ann Cleeves, David Baldacci, Peter James) performed admirably, while Pan Mac dipped a toe in Kindle Unlimited waters by putting three authors’ titles, including Jeffrey Archer’s, on the subscription platform.

    Divisional heads
  • Lis Tribe

    Hodder Education M.d.

    The education sector was the book trade’s essential service during lockdown, perhaps typified by the swift response of Tribe’s Hodder Education, which gave away around £1m in free online resources. This was not just by donating content, but also ensuring its deliverability, in the form of the publisher’s huge effort in converting resources that are not normally digitised. Hodder Ed’s remediation service was brought forward, from a 2021 launch to September, in order to help educators with post-lockdown assessment.

    Divisional heads
  • Nicola Tuxworth

    Cheltenham Literary Festival Head of programming

    In a normal year, Tuxworth’s assured and innovative programming ensures the world’s longest-running literary festival has a freshness and cutting edge. This was no normal year, but she was not fazed by the challenges of the Covid crisis, transforming the festival into a pioneering digital ’do, with 160-plus events across 10 days via an interactive festival map, guest curated by Elif Shafak and Dishoom’s Shamil Thakrar, and featuring live chats with authors such as Caitlin Moran and Edna O’Brien.

    Fairs & Festivals
  • Peter & Nicola Usborne

    Usborne Founder/deputy m.d.

    With global revenues within touching distance of £100m, Usborne is undoubtedly the most successful UK independent publisher. Nicola Usborne has done most of the steering of the family firm for the past few years—though founder Peter still plays a big part—and while much of the revenue still comes from its novelty and activity book heartland (12 of its top 13 titles this year are by activity book maestro/editorial director/bestselling author Fiona Watt), the publisher continues to expand its footprint into middle grade and Young Adult.

    Bosses
  • Nicole Vanderbilt

    Bookshop.org UK m.d.

    Former Etsy vice-president Vanderbilt runs the UK team for new book retail website Bookshop.org, which also includes Foyles’ former head of buying Jasper Sutcliffe. The site has been hailed by BA m.d. Meryl Halls as a “game-changer”, and the early signs are positive: in its first week, it sold £415,000 worth of books to more than 20,000 customers, and over 300 indie bookshops have already signed up, with several publishers on board too. Hopes are high for what comes next.

    Booksellers & distributors New Entry
  • Rob Waddington

    Penguin Random House Group sales director

    Waddington has had various roles across PRH for 17 years, and stepped up to be the boss of the UK’s biggest sales team in 2017. His strategic thinking and clear sense of the publishing across all of PRH’s estate has led to him adding another feather to his cap: in 2021, he will take over the burgeoning audio list. He is also “leaving” PRH... sort of. Having co-authored three of James Patterson’s BookShots novellas under the pen name Rob Gold, Waddington’s first two solo crime novels under the pseudonym have been snapped up by Sphere.

    PR, sales & marketing
  • David Walliams

    Author

    In years to come, children who lived through lockdown might associate this time with David Walliams and his long-term collaborator, illustrator Tony Ross. If we didn’t already know Walliams’ brand was strong enough to transcend the general health of the book market, this year he became a lockdown go-to for stressed families, with Slime spending four weeks as the Official UK Top 50 number one in April, and Code Name Bananas repeating the trick in Lockdown 2.0 in November. The latter even blocked J K Rowling’s latest title, The Ickabog, from claiming the overall top spot.

    Authors & illustrators
  • Tom Weldon

    Penguin Random House C.e.o.

    Among Weldon’s biggest tasks this year was managing his teams’ transition to home working—a tad ironic, as PRH was meant to move into its new Embassy Gardens digs in Battersea this year. Black Lives Matter protests this summer put further scrutiny on diversity, an area Weldon has long been addressing, and in personnel moves, Venetia Butterfield and Hannah Telfer were promoted to run Cornerstone and Vintage respectively. It looks as though integrating Simon & Schuster will be the key task in 2021.

    Bosses Evergreen
  • Joe Wicks

    Author, fitness vlogger

    Apart from Captain Sir Tom Moore, no one had a better lockdown than Wicks, who went from bestselling author to national treasure. Parents across the UK were grateful for “The Body Coach”’s free “PE with Joe” YouTube workouts, and the increased visibility boosted his backlist and two 2020 titles, Wean in 15 and last month’s 30-Day Kick Start Plan. The increased fame also led to a multi-book adult and children’s deal with HQ, which kicks off in 2021 after one last title with his current house, Bluebird.

    Authors & illustrators Influencers New Entry
  • Kishani Widyaratna, Gayle Lazda & Zeljka Marosevic

    4th Estate/LRB/Daunt Publishing Editorial director/bookseller/publisher

    A heartwarming lockdown story was the crowdfunder launched by Lazda, Widyaratna (pictured) and Marosevic to help individual booksellers facing hardship due to Covid. An original £10,000 target was quickly surpassed as authors and trade figures piled in, followed by PRH and the BA, mushrooming until the fund eclipsed £380,000 after an anonymous £250,000 donation—later outed as Amazon. The trio deserve great thanks.

    Influencers New Entry
  • Maura Wilding

    Orion Communications director

    Since Orion boss Katie Espiner lured Wilding back to Hachette at the start of 2019, she has spearheaded some hugely effective publicity campaigns, including her stellar work on Julie Andrews’ memoir Home Work and the crowning glory, her and colleague Leanne Oliver’s Publishers’ Publicity Circle award-winner for Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie. The top-notch talent surrounding Wilding in the Orion publicity team includes other PPC winners Francesca Pearce, Elizabeth Allan and Virginia Woolstencroft.

    New Entry PR, sales & marketing
  • Kate Wilson

    Nosy Crow M.d.

    Being nimble has been a hallmark of Nosy Crow since its founding by Wilson a decade ago, but the children’s publisher showed it in spades during the pandemic with Coronavirus: A Book for Children about Covid-19, a quick-to-publication digital and then print book, written in-house and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It also won the Nibbie for Independent Publisher of the Year and two IPG gongs: the International Achievement Award and The Bookseller Young Independent Publisher of the Year, for senior international rights manager Michela Pea.

    Bosses
  • Wayne Winstone

    Winstone’s M.d.

    The former Ottakar’s and Waterstones buyer opened his first indie in Sherborne in 2012 and has since expanded it into a three-strong mini-chain. The shops are perpetually up for industry gongs: the Sherborne shop won the Independent Bookshop of the Year Nibbie in 2016, while Frome’s Hunting Raven was the south-west regional winner this year. During the lockdowns the mantra has been “closed for browsing, open for business”, with a new transactional website and local delivery for all three shops.

    Booksellers & distributors New Entry
  • Gaby Wood

    The Booker prize Literary director

    Compared to 2019’s difficult judging period, anything—even a pandemic- and Obama-altered date—must have seemed like a breeze for Wood. There was the usual carping about Americans, moans about the shortlist, but that is par for the course. In the end, a snazzy virtual ceremony, a far cry from the stuffy confines of the Guildhall, crowned a winner embraced by booksellers. Wood says her remit is to “broaden not narrow” the prize, and under her direction the Booker seems to be forging ahead, not looking back.

    Fairs & Festivals
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