David Rosenthal (pictured) is the publishing exec who fell from the sky but landed on his feet.
David Rosenthal Puts on His Penguin Suit
The problem with losing your job when you’re a high-level executive in contemporary book publishing is that your options are basically to become a literary agent or do something vague and most likely super-boring involving e-books. So one could have forgiven David Rosenthal for feeling a little gloomy this past summer after being fired abruptly from Simon & Schuster and being replaced by Jonathan Karp, a guy 10 years his junior, at the head of the CBS-owned publisher’s flagship imprint.
This week Mr. Rosenthal is celebrating a happy landing. On Tuesday morning, it was announced that come January he will be running his own boutique imprint at Penguin Group USA, arguably the healthiest of the big New York houses as well as home to a number of the 56-year-old’s former colleagues. Once he gets going, Mr. Rosenthal—whose roster at Simon & Schuster included Bob Woodward, David McCullough, Bob Dylan and Jim Cramer—will be on charge of a small but full-fledged operation at Penguin, with dedicated publicity and marketing muscle and a list totaling somewhere between 24 and 36 books per year.
Over lunch on Tuesday at the Half King in Chelsea, Mr. Rosenthal said Penguin president Susan Petersen Kennedy reached out to him shortly after his firing, and had been “aggressive and enthusiastic” in their talks. He is stoked to go work for her, he said: “People at Penguin don’t bitch about their place of employ nearly as much as people elsewhere. Everybody says, ‘The only person you ever want to work for in publishing anymore is Susan.'”