Chris White is to leave his position as Waterstones’ fiction buyer after 14 years to move into publishing as a senior commissioning editor for Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner.
White joined Waterstones in 2004, leading the buying team, and is currently head of fiction and publisher liaison at Waterstones. In his time at the bookselling chain it has established a strong reputation for discovering new talent and creating bestsellers and has also previously been named a Bookseller Rising Star and in the Bookseller 100 as one of the most influential people in the industry.
White has been hired to work on Scribner after Rowan Cope, Scribner’s associate publisher, decided not to return from maternity leave.
In his new role, starting on 10th September, White will report to Suzanne Baboneau, managing director, Adult Publishing.
She said: “We are so pleased that Chris is joining us. He is passionate about books, writers and our industry, and is driven by a desire to find great writing and deliver it to as wide an audience as possible. I know that he will learn the publishing ropes quickly and will make his mark beautifully.”
White said it had been a “fabulous” 14 years at Waterstones.
“I’ve met old heroes, collaborated with publishers on campaigns for the some of the bestselling books of all time and, most importantly, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work alongside some of the most extraordinary colleagues, many of whom have become my closest friends,” he said. “I wouldn’t have even considered leaving had Simon & Schuster not offered me such an exciting opportunity. The chance to work on and develop the Scribner list, home to the likes of Graham Swift, Philipp Meyer and Ian McGuire, was really too good to pass up. I’m hopeful my experience at Waterstones will bring a fresh perspective to the publishing, but I’m also delighted that I’ll be getting to learn from Suzanne, a publisher I’ve liked and admired for many years.”
He added that he hoped to help make “Scribner a publishing force to be reckoned with in the coming months and years”.
Waterstones has not said whether White will be replaced, saying it will confirm so in "due course".
The retailer's buying director Kate Skipper said White had been a great “ambassador” for Waterstones.
“We have been enormously lucky that someone of Chris’ charm, kindness and skill has been such an effective ambassador for Waterstones,” she said. “I shall personally miss Chris enormously, he has been a wonderful and supportive colleague and I can’t imagine how much less fun the last few years would have been without him. However his new role is an incredible opportunity - I am thrilled to see his talents so justly recognised and I cannot wait to see how he helps to shape the Scribner list.”
It is the second buyer Waterstones has lost recently after Joseph Knobbs left his position as crime buyer to concentrate on his crime writing. In 2016, Waterstones head of books Melissa Cox also made the move into publishing, joining Hodder & Stoughton as editorial director.
In April Watestones was bought by Eliot Advisors. At the time managing director James Daunt said his key leadership team would remain in place at the chain.