Bloomsbury USA president Karen Rinaldi, who has been with the house for nine years, is leaving her job for a "very senior and interesting post" at wellness/health/fitness publisher Rodale Books, according to an announcement from the company’s executive director, Richard Charkin. According to an announcement from Rodale, Ms. Rinaldi will be serving as general manager and publishing director, overseeing "editorial and publishing for all of Rodale’s books."
Word of Ms. Rinaldi’s departure has left many in the New York publishing community in disbelief. One literary agent said today that Ms. Rinaldi was the "soul" of the Bloomsbury’s U.S. branch, which she helped launch nine years ago when its London-based parent company decided to bring its operation stateside. She was the driving force behind its list, several people said, as well as the principal architect of its staff.
Ms. Rinaldi, who could not be reached for comment, is the third senior member of the Bloomsbury staff this year to leave the company. Annik LaFarge, who was the publishing director for about two years, was fired in January, and executive editor Gillian Blake left last week for a similar position at Collins. As Publisher’s Weekly notes in their account of the shake-up, six others lost their jobs along with Ms. LaFarge.
All these departures follow a rough year for Bloomsbury’s U.S. operation: according to a company report issued in June, stateside sales fell by 14.9% for the second half of the last fiscal year, and a profit is not expected for the current one. At the time Bloomsbury’s parent company said they would be reducing staff by means of attrition.
Ms. Rinaldi is pretty much going to be the boss over at Rodale’s book division (they also do magazines); she will assume oversight of all editorial and publishing operations, and the current publisher, Liz Perl, will be reporting directly to her.