The publishing world was hardly surprised when Random House and Villard editor-in-chief Jonathan Karp quit two years ago. The baby-faced 43-year-old was expected to pursue a career writing musical comedies (his How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes did make it to the stage). But instead, Karp launched a small imprint at Warner Books called Twelve—the idea being that he would publish only twelve books a year and personally edit each one (it’s now part of the Hachette Book Group). Right out of the gate, Twelve’s first two titles—Christopher Buckley’s novel Boomsday, published April 1, and Christopher Hitchens’s atheist polemic God Is Not Great, published May 1—are best sellers; Hitchens’s book recently hit No. 1 on the Times’ nonfiction list. “I think this proves the popularity of the idea of euthanasia for baby-boomers,” a plot point in Buckley’s book, “and the wide appeal of atheism,” Karp jokes. “Having two best sellers is certainly an achievement, but he started off with two brands,” snipes a rival publishing exec. “Can he work his magic with lesser-known authors?” Like, for example, June’s book, a techno-thriller called Hooked, by a Times reporter, Matt Richtel. But it’s back to brands by August, with John McCain’s Hard Call.
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