Jane Friedman's Departure: Sentimental or Suspicious?

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In the Jane Friedman era at HarperCollins (the era that ended late last night, with her official resignation), the weekly Thursday marketing meeting was mostly about Jane: An analyst went through the numbers and senior editors discussed their lineups, but mostly they listened to Friedman, who "got cross if anyone spoke too much," reports a former editor. Today was also all about her, as she came in and gave what one editor describes as "a brief emotional speech full of love and pride, and confidence that the right people were taking over." Staffers report grim silence, a tear or two, and standing ovations upon both her entrance and her departure. Then Brian Murray, her replacement as CEO, "said just the right things" about her legacy, her irreplacability, etc. After which he led pretty much a run-of-the-mill marketing meeting. "It was about the usual hour in length," says the editor. "I don't know for sure. I've lost all sense of time."

The party line is still that Friedman chose to resign yesterday (and Michael Morrison, who just moved up into the number-two president slot vacated by Murray, has insisted today that Friedman had been mulling a departure for a year). But sources both inside and outside Harper didn't seem to be buying it. One person on staff called the circumstances "very suspicious," while another publisher said, "Clearly she was fired. She was just at BEA [the big annual Book Expo in L.A.] telling everybody how much she loved her job. Frankly, she wouldn't have gone to BEA if she didn't have to." —Boris Kachka

Earlier: HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman Abruptly Departs