Michael Pietsch, the chief executive of Hachette Book Group, is stepping down from his role and will become the company’s chairman, Hachette and its parent company, Hachette Livre, announced Tuesday.
David Shelley, who is currently the chief executive of Hachette UK, will also become chief executive of Hachette Book Group, the company’s division in the United States.
Under Shelley’s new role, Hachette, which is one of the five largest publishing companies in the United States, will become more closely aligned with its British counterpart, enabling the divisions to “each learn from the other, and to continually reach new readers,” Shelley said in a statement.
The new leadership structure will take effect in January.
Pietsch, who has worked in publishing for 45 years, is known for his literary taste. He previously worked as an editor and publisher at Little, Brown, one of Hachette’s literary imprints, and helped build a stable of best-selling and award-winning authors, among them David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, David Sedaris, Donna Tartt, Stacy Schiff and David Foster Wallace.
After starting his career in publishing as an intern, Pietsch eventually found a job at Scribner, and then moved to Little, Brown as an editor in 1991. Over the next decade, he ascended the ranks, becoming editor in chief and then publisher in 2001.
After he became chief executive of Hachette in 2013, Pietsch steered the company through tumultuous periods of change in the publishing industry. In 2014, he led Hachette during its highly contentious negotiations with Amazon over e-book pricing. At a time of increasing consolidation in the book business, he oversaw the company’s growth spurt as it bought smaller publishers like Workman Publishing, Perseus Books and Black Dog & Leventhal.
Like many large publishing houses, Hachette saw sales surge during the onset of the pandemic, and then dip more recently. Hachette’s revenue in the quarter that ended on Sept. 30 was down more than 5 percent, a drop that Pietsch attributed to “a downward trend” in sales across the industry and a “soft market for new titles.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Pietsch praised the company for thriving “through complex and challenging times.”