Matt Weiland announced yesterday that he will be leaving his job at HarperCollins imprint Ecco to take a position as senior editor at W.W. Norton on October 24. It’s an exciting move for Mr. Weiland, whose books at Ecco have included Padgett Powell’s conceptual novel The Interrogative Mood and Philip Connors’s nature memoir Fire Season. A native of Minnesota and a Columbia alumnus, Mr. Weiland came to Ecco in 2008 by way of The Paris Review and Granta Books in London. He fills a vacancy left by Robert Weil, whom Norton tapped earlier this year to revive its dormant imprint Liveright & Co.
“I’ve just loved it these past three years at Ecco,” said an exuberant Mr. Weiland on the phone with The Observer yesterday. “[Publisher] Dan Halpern and everyone at Ecco are the best colleagues I’ve ever had and I’d never imagined leaving.” He said the unexpected offer from Norton “feels like some crazy good bank shot.”
Ecco, which was founded by Dan Halpern and purchased by HarperCollins in 1999, is one of the most prestigious boutique imprints in the industry. W.W. Norton, however, has the advantage of being owned by its employees (HarperCollins is owned by Rupert Murdoch). Norton also has a reputation for quality, producing both blockbusters (including most of Michael Lewis’s books) and literary successes (like Nicole Krauss’s Great House) but generally avoiding projects pitched more for their marketing potential than their content.
“It’s a firm I’ve hugely admired for 20 years and whose books line my shelves,” said Mr. Weiland. And it was not only that: “My whole life I’ve wanted to work on 42nd Street and I thought if I don’t do this I’ll have to work for Port Authority.” Norton’s offices are on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.
“Matt first captured everyone’s attention here as the exceptionally talented young editor of an anthology we published back in 1997,” said publisher W. Drake McFeely in a statement from Norton. “It’s a thrill to bring him into the fold as an editor, at last.” The book in question was an anthology of articles from The Baffler magazine called Commodify Your Dissent.
Mr. Weiland was not at liberty to say all of the books that are on his list at Ecco that he’ll be taking with him to Norton, but he did say that two high-profile projects — Mr Connors’s second book, a memoir of his brother’s suicide, and New York magazine contributor Wesley Yang’s forthcoming book about the Asian-American experience of the American dream — will be moving with him to his new job.
As far as future acquisitions, Mr. Weiland said he will be acquiring books similar to those that made up his list at Ecco, what he calls “writerly non-fiction and some fiction too” and books that “appeal to all sorts of readers.”