When Markus Dohle announced the restructuring of Random House back in December, one knot left untied was the fate of Steve Rubin, who had been with the company, in one capacity or another, for more than 20 years. His most recent job there, as president and publisher of the Doubleday Broadway Group, was eliminated as part of the restructuring, and for a second there it looked like another one of the industry’s most visible figures was going to disappear from the scene.
Instead, Mr. Dohle decided to find Mr. Rubin a new job, and in that memo he sent to staff explaining the reorganization, he said the two of them were already in discussions about what that might be. This morning, after months of negotiations, Mr. Rubin’s new gig was at long last revealed. According to the announcement from Mr. Dohle, it’ll consist of acquiring new books, liaising between Random’s U.S. and U.K. operations, advising on "a variety of strategic business opportunities and issues," and serving as, um, a "new-business advocate." He will be called executive vice president and publisher at large, and according to corporate spokesman Stuart Applebaum, will work Monday through Friday from his office on the 25th floor of the Random House building.
Asked to elaborate on the "new-business advocate" thing, Mr. Applebaum said it was a "deliberately expansive description of the flexibility Mr. Rubin will have in identifying and, if warranted, recommending all kinds of book-publishing-centric proposals and entrepreneurial opportunities."
Superficially, at least, the job sounds a little like the one held by former Penguin Putnam CEO Phyllis Grann, who joined Random House in 2002 as "vice chairman" to then-CEO Peter Olson. Ms. Grann, now an editor at the Doubleday imprint, left that job just a few months after taking it, and speculation at the time was that she was disappointed with how much authority Mr. Olson allowed her to have.
Mr. Applebaum said in an email that Mr. Rubin’s responsibilities at Random House will have much more to do with acquisition and author relations than Ms. Grann’s did.
"I don’t recall [Ms. Grann] having any specified author-oriented responsibilities, as Mr. Rubin does," Mr. Applebaum said. "I also recall the intent of her assignment was much more focused on strategic planning and corporate-development-related duties. Mr. Rubin may get involved in a little of the latter, at Mr. Dohle’s behest, but his primary, day-to-day mandates from our CEO are publishing-centered, books and authors."