TO: All Employees
FROM: Jane Friedman
Judith Regan’s employment with HarperCollins has been terminated effective immediately. The REGAN publishing program and staff will continue as part of the HarperCollins General Books Group.
This email probably wins the prize for being the fastest-forwarded message in the history of the publishing industry. As everyone knows, Judith Regan was responsible for the OJ Simpson "If I Did It" debacle, which provoked lots of discussion about how low one can stoop to make money in the book industry. Many would agree that Regan stooped pretty low... but while scoffing at her books, I'm sure most envied her profit margins. I would have to agree with this editorial in PW Daily:
As for HarperCollins: it is well known that many Regan books—from Wicked to Howard Stern to three bestsellers about Scott Peterson—made a great deal of money for the company. Without her—and really, without her, will the imprint be able to make and market the books that reflected her uncanny and unseemly taste or lack thereof?—won't Harper feel the pinch? The marketplace certainly wanted many of these books, which may say more about the marketplace than it does about the morals of editors, but we all live and die by that marketplace. And I can't help wondering what the brass will say if their numbers are down in the first post-Regan year. Still, the common wisdom is that Regan simply had to go, that she had become a public embarrassment to her company and to all of publishing. While that's certainly true, I'm deeply skeptical about the suggestion that firing Regan means the book business has, at long last, re-found its soul. It's a business, after all, and if publishing to the lowest common denominator is what makes companies profitable, then that's the kind of publishing we're going to continue, at least sometimes, to do.The very fact that everyone's been gossiping so gleefully about this would seem to prove that we all have an appetite for scandalous stories, and Regan sure knows how to serve them!