David R. Godine, considered one of the country’s great independent publishers, has announced that its eponymous owner is stepping down at the end of the year, and a successor has been named.
William N. Thorndike Jr., founder of the private equity investment firm Housatonic Partners and a member of the Godine board, will take over as owner and plans to have a new management team in place by July.
“As the new owner of Godine, I’m delighted to continue and hopefully extend the company’s tradition of publishing excellence,” Thondike said in a statement.
The Godine company, whose tiny headquarters is located in an office building on Court Square, typically publishes between 30 and 40 titles per year, an idiosyncratic mix of contemporary fiction and nonfiction, rediscovered works, translations of world literature, poetry, art, and children’s books. It will mark its 50th year in business in 2020.
David R. Godine has also demonstrated a knack for nurturing Nobel Prize recipients. He was the first in the United States to publish French writer Patrick Modiano, whose novels about memory and war earned him the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature, and also J. M. G. Le Clezio, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Reached Thursday, Godine, who turns 75 this year, said he’s relieved that Thorndike is taking over, and he predicts the company will thrive under new leadership.
“Will is looking to make Godine a major player in publishing,” the company’s founder said. “He’s serious about this.”
In a statement, Thorndike highlighted two new hires he hopes will bring pluck and vision to the company. David Allender, a former Godine employee, is returning as managing director, and Josh Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, will take over as editorial director. Both Bodwell and Allender will report to Thorndike and Godine.
Godine, who lives in Milton with his wife, Sara Eisenman, a former art director at Alfred A. Knopf, said he had big plans for his retirement.
“I’m learning the banjo, and I’m perfecting my three-finger picking technique, and I’m going to be sailing my wooden boat off the Maine coast,” he said. “I’m also going to be reading all those books I should have read, and frequently pretended I did read.”