Blue Door to close in 2014 with retirement of Janson-Smith

Blue Door to close in 2014 with retirement of Janson-Smith

Patrick Janson-Smith is to retire next year after 47 years in the publishing industry.

He will step down from his role of publisher at HarperCollins imprint Blue Door in autumn 2014, at the age of 65, after attending his 40th consecutive Frankfurt Book Fair. The imprint, which he founded five years ago, and published  Dylan Thomas Prize-winning author Maggie Shipstead, will close when he leaves, with the books folded into the wider HarperFiction list.

Speaking to The Bookseller, Janson-Smith said: "47 years is a long time to be in the business – as I keep telling people, I was doing it before they were born. Have I enjoyed myself? Abso-ruddy-loutely. I have a had a wonderful life, and now I can think about my memoirs, though I may face some libel issues along the way."

Asked if he plans to step back from the industry, he said: "The lovely thing about retiring is that I'll have a pension, so I won't be desperate for cash, but if someone calls asking me to read a few books or help out somewhere, I may be able to. I have a lot of interests – there's a lot of books to read, I collect rare books and illustrations, I like walking and birdwatching, food and wine. I'm not going to be bored. Who know what will come out of the woodwork? Perhaps I'll start working in a bookshop."

Janson-Smith began his career at University of London Press, before stints at Granada Publishing, Octopus and the Nationwide Book Service. He then became publisher at Transworld, a position he held between 1981 and 2005. While there, he published writers including Bill Bryson, Jilly Cooper, Terry Pratchett, Any McNab and Joanna Trollope. After founding the Black Swan imprint, he also spent time as an agent. He joined HarperCollins, setting up the Blue Door imprint in 2008.

He said: "The industry has changed so much in the past few years. The whole industry is in a bit of a mess at the moment, but it can only get better.

"I think Stephen Page said, if you can't understand it, get out. I think that's good advice, which I intend to follow. I'm a book man, and I mean a book, with pages in it. That's my true love, and I want to be faithful."

Asked if he had any advice for younger publishers, he said: "Ignore the nonsense – there's a lot of it about. You've got to be true to yourself, you've got to believe and you've got to be passionate, passion is what drives the business."

HarperCollins c.e.o. Charlie Redmayne said: "Everyone at HarperCollins will be immensely sad to see Patrick retire. He has had a wonderful career in publishing which is based on a real passion for books and writers. We will miss him here both professionally and personally and wish him well for the future."

Kate Elton, publisher of HarperFiction said: "It’s been a privilege to work with Patrick at HarperCollins.  His eye for talented writers and great storytelling has brought bestselling, award-winning writers to the HarperFiction division and he will be much missed by the whole team."