Maja Thomas will be leaving Hachette after a 22-year career with the company that saw her build Hachette’s audio-book division, cultivate marquee talents like David Sedaris and rise to the positions of publisher of Hachette Audio, senior vice president of Hachette Digital and chair of Hachette Livre’s international board for digital issues. Her last day at the company in her current capacity will be April 30, at which point she will take a two month leave and then transition into an advisory role at Hachette until the end of the year.
An official company note from CEO Michael Pietsch (below) says that Thomas is leaving Hachette since she has finished building the company’s digital workflows and departments and “with Bookish launched, Maja has decided that she is ready for new challenges,” but there could be more to it.
With many companies like Hachette now running digital operations throughout the business, the need for a centralized department that leads a transition into digital may be diminishing somewhat. HarperCollins recently let go of its senior vice president of publishing transformation Carolyn Pittis. And when Hachette hired Bloomsbury’s Evan Schnittman to be its chief marketing and sales officer in March of 2012, Thomas was put into a role reporting to him.
“Evan and Maja will combine their expertise and passion for digital and evolve how Hachette approaches the wide variety of markets we call ‘digital,’” said a spokesperson for Hachette at the time.
With Bookish, one of Thomas’s big projects during her tenure as SVP of Hachette Digital, launched and a new senior executive appointed above her, it could be that Thomas ran out of things to do and new roles to fill at the company.
According to Pietsch’s note, Thomas will help reorganize the company’s digital and audio departments before she leaves and that the company will be making announcements on those plans soon.
Thomas joined Hachette in 1991 as an audio editor, writer and producer and has held positions such as director of production, editor-at-large, publisher of Hachette Audio and senior vice president of digital media. She edited, among others, the New York Times bestseller, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. As publisher of Hachette Audio, she has worked with many authors and actors, including Madeleine Albright, David Foster Wallace, Julie Andrews, and Oprah Winfrey.
In his note on Thomas’s departure, Pietsch said, “was instrumental in the development of our digital publishing program—which exceeded 25 percent of HBG revenues last year—as well as transitioning our business over to accommodate merged digital sales and physical sales.”
I’m very sorry to announce that Maja Thomas, SVP Hachette Digital & Audio, after 22 years of exceptional contribution to the company, is preparing to leave HBG for the next exciting chapter of her career.
Since joining A+Audio (a small division of Time Warner at the time) in 1991 as editor/writer/producer, Maja has been a pioneer in the creation of HBG’s ebook and audiobook businesses. She has brought her vision, leadership, and entrepreneurial drive to the development of these key areas of our company and delivered enormously successful results and growth.
Since taking the helm at Hachette Audio in 2000 Maja has led the division to an industry-leading position. She has worked brilliantly with many authors, from David Sedaris and David Foster Wallace to Julie Andrews and Caroline Kennedy. She and her excellent team have earned many top industry honors, including five Grammy Awards (and fifteen nominations), a real point of pride for HBG. Hachette Audio has also been awarded Audiobook of the Year for an unprecedented three years running.
Maja has led Hachette Digital since 2005 and was instrumental in the development of our digital publishing program—which exceeded 25 percent of HBG revenues last year—as well as transitioning our business over to accommodate merged digital sales and physical sales. In the past three years Maja has been chief strategist for HBG of the Bookish website, one that will continue to evolve in exciting ways.
Now the world Maja helped us envision and join has become our daily life, with digital incorporated into every workflow and department. And with Bookish launched, Maja has decided that she is ready for new challenges. Her last day in her current capacity will be April 30.
Happily, she’s not leaving us entirely—not yet, at least. After a two-month personal leave, Maja will return on July 1 and until the end of 2013 will work for us on a part-time basis, remotely, and will report to me. As Advisor on Digital & Special Projects, she will consult with us on all matters digital, as well as representing us on the Bookish board of directors.
Maja is working with me now on a new structure for the Audio and Digital groups, and we will have announcements about that soon. For now, please join me in expressing heartfelt thanks to Maja for the huge contributions she has made to HBG, and in wishing her all bright successes ahead.