David Fickling is to leave Random House, where he is publisher at the David Fickling Books children's imprint, to set up as an independent publisher.
Fickling's new company will take the name David Fickling Books, with Simon Mason joining as the company's managing director. The venture will continue to be based in its existing Oxford office and plans to publish 25-30 books a year.
Meanwhile titles scheduled to be published at Random House's DFB imprint after Fickling's departure will continue to be published as DFB books by the RHCP fiction team headed by Annie Eaton and the picture book team led by Fiona Macmillan.
RHCP's existing DFB backlist—which includes the young adult edition of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas—will gradually move to one of the other imprints in the Random House children's division.
Fickling said he couldn't overemphasise how well he had been treated by Random House since DFB came under its aegis in 2001, despite RH being, as he put it, "the size of a small country".
"I will miss colleagues hugely, and some of the teams are beyond brilliant," he said. "The international team led by Simon Littlewood have looked after David Fickling Books so well and I hope may continue to do so. Annie Eaton [RHCP's fiction publisher] has been my colleague for years. We're going to want to form partnerships, one of which I hope will be with Random House."
But, he said, he wanted to make the step into independence. "I like publishing to be personal, and I want to keep at the level of making books. I'm 60, it's about legacy—the storyhouse going on, the editorial team continuing to go on publishing the best books they can find. It's also about sharing with authors, and partnerships. And it's about autonomy—publishers have to recognise great work when they see it; and when they see it, act and get it out there."
Fickling said he was looking forward to joining the community of small independent publishers. "I admire Andrew Franklin at Profile, Jamie Byng at Canongate, these amazing publishers and many others. These are the great powerhouses. I want to work with them too, and be a publisher in that group."
Philippa Dickinson, managing director of Random House Children's Publishing, said: "I have had the great pleasure of working with David Fickling, watching him grow and develop the DFB imprint at Random House, publishing a number of wonderful books to both critical and commercial success . . . Together we nurtured a small creative team with an independent flavour while still being able to offer authors and staff the investment, security and sales reach of a global publisher. However, I have always known that, in his heart of hearts, David wanted one day to publish independently. Now he has taken that step, one which has our whole-hearted support."
RHCP said there would be "a period of transition as the new arrangements settle in" during the next few months, but that, "in the meantime, the business of publishing books continues as before."
Dickinson added: "The books that are scheduled as David Fickling Books will continue to be published here as DFB books - David won't be ready to publish [his own] titles for quite some time. It's an orderly transition from one phase of DFB publishing to another. The most important thing is that authors and books are published as well in DFB after his departure as when he was here."