Malcolm Edwards leaves Orion

News - Publishing Friday, 24 May 2019

'Publishing legend' quits after 20 years; stellar 43-year career publishing authors including J.G. Ballard, George R.R. Martin, Harlan Coben, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, James Herbert, Michael Dobbs and Julian Fellowes


Orion released a statement marking Edwards' departure, which we reproduce in full

'The Orion Publishing Group announces today that Malcolm Edwards, Consultant Publisher and Chair of Gollancz, is stepping down from the business. His last day with the company will be 31st May.

'Malcolm started his publishing career in 1976 as science fiction editor at Gollancz. He rose to become Publishing Director and established a formidable list. The high point came in 1984 when, within a month, he published J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun, William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood. Other authors he edited included Brian Aldiss, Octavia Butler, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Ursula Le Guin, Michael Moorcock and Terry Pratchett. He was also a Contributing Editor to the first edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, published in 1979.

'He moved to HarperCollins in late 1989 and became Fiction Publishing Director in early 1991. Among the many authors he edited were Stephen Baxter, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, David Eddings, Alan Furst, James Herbert and Peter Straub. He edited and published both Michael Dobbs’s House of Cards novels and George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

'His idea to publish a novel in paperback serial parts came to fruition with Stephen King’s The Green Mile in 1996.

'He was named Editor of the Year at the 1996 British Book Awards.

'Malcolm moved to Orion at the beginning of 1998 to take up the newly created position of Managing Director of Orion Books, and became Deputy Chief Executive and Publisher in 2003 alongside CEO Peter Roche. He also served on the Hachette UK board from its foundation.

'At Orion he assembled a team of editors, and a major part of his role was to acquire books for all parts of the list. Among the authors he worked with were — in fiction — Maeve Binchy, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Justin Cronin (The Passage), Julian Fellowes, Gillian Flynn, Anthony Horowitz, Kate Mosse, Ian Rankin and Carlos Ruiz Zafón; and in non-fiction Trinny & Susannah, the Hairy Bikers, Richard Hammond, Michael Palin, Keith Richards, Julie Walters, Jennifer Worth (Call the Midwife) and Malala Yousafzai.

'Orion was named Publisher of the Year at the 2005 British Book Awards. Weidenfeld & Nicolson was named Imprint of the Year in 2015.

'One early initiative at Orion was to establish in 1999 the SF Masterworks list, Malcolm having observed that many classic novels were being allowed to go out of print by their publishers. The list now features over 150 titles and is recognised as canonical. In 2011 he established one of the first major digital libraries, the SF Gateway, which now contains almost 3000 titles. He was a Guest of Honour at the 2014 World SF Convention in London in recognition of his decades-long contribution to SF publishing.

'In 2015 he stepped down from his executive positions and became Consultant Publisher to Orion and Chair of Gollancz. His extensive knowledge of publishing history led to him working closely with the design agency to create the ‘Author River’ and Imprint History at Carmelite House.'

Arnaud Nourry, ceo of Hachette Livre, said: "Malcolm Edwards has made a big contribution to Hachette UK in his time here. I have valued his publishing wisdom highly and on behalf of Hachette Livre I would like to thank him for all he has brought to the company over the years."

David Shelley, ceo of Hachette UK, commented: "Malcolm is one of the most well-read and knowledgeable people in publishing – a true publishing legend - and his influence in Science Fiction and Fantasy in particular cannot be overstated. His impact on Orion over the past 21 years has been immense and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for the work he has done here and wish him the best for the next chapter of his life."

Edwards said: "I feel privileged to have worked with so many great authors, editors and other colleagues across all the imprints at Orion. I can’t omit mentioning what an honour it was to work for more than 15 years alongside George Weidenfeld. In the last three years I’ve greatly enjoyed being part of the Gollancz team, brilliantly led by Gillian Redfearn; and I’d particularly like to thank Arnaud Nourry and Tim Hely-Hutchinson for their years of support. I’m sure Orion under its new management team is destined to march on to even greater success in years to come."

'A celebration of Malcolm's career in publishing will be held at a date and venue to be announced.'

Speaking to BookBrunch, Edwards agreed that Game Of Thrones, signed after an auction for £150,000 a book, had been his biggest commercial success, "although I had to talk Eddie Bell into doing the deal - but then it became like a pebble falling down a mountainside". He confirmed that he was looking to take on other projects in publishing.

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