Acclaimed publishing executive Molly Stern today announces the creation of Zando, an ambitious new publishing venture backed by SISTER, the independent studio formed in 2019 by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone to develop, produce and invest in visionary storytellers. Zando is Stern’s first publishing endeavour since leaving her post as SVP & Publisher of Crown, a division of Penguin Random House, where she edited Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
Zando will collaborate with influential people, platforms and institutions to acquire and publish new titles under their own imprints. Zando will also acquire and publish new titles under its own brand and together, Zando and its Catalyst Partners will champion a diverse range of talented authors. Each Catalyst Partner will curate the books they publish—an average of three annually—and drive awareness and sales for those titles by communicating their advocacy and leveraging their influence.
Zando plans to launch its first season in fall 2021; Stern is in advanced negotiations with a handful of high-profile cultural figures to become the first Catalyst Partners, who will be announced individually.
Zando grew out of Stern’s obsession with finding new ways to connect audiences to worthy, distinctive books in a world of overwhelming choice. Stern said: “Books are the source code of the world’s best stories and ideas. With SISTER’s support, I’m thrilled to launch a nimble new publishing company for the modern era, one that builds on my long history in publishing, embraces collaboration and makes the most of all the novel ways readers come to great work. It’s our aim to harness and scale the most persuasive magic of all: authentic enthusiasm.”
Elisabeth Murdoch, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of SISTER, said: “Molly’s vision for Zando exemplifies SISTER’s cultural mission and commitment to seek out, nurture and support the very best creative talent. With some of the most celebrated and iconic publications of the last decade under her belt, Molly has an eye for a great story and the ear of those who write them. Jane, Stacey and I could not be more excited to work with Molly as she lays the groundwork for an inspired, disciplined and powerful new publishing program.”
Stern will lead Zando as Chief Executive, supported by a significant start-up investment from SISTER.Reflecting SISTER’s long-term strategic commitment, two of SISTER’s three co-founders, Elisabeth Murdoch and Stacey Snider, will sit on Zando’s Board of Directors alongside Stern, Matt Lieber, co-founder of Gimlet, the narrative podcasting company, and David Benioff, author and screenwriter.
In a career spanning twenty-five years in publishing, Stern has led and launched multiple imprints and been responsible for numerous prize-winning and bestselling works of fiction and nonfiction. These include three winners of the Pulitzer Prize (Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Geraldine Brooks’s March, and Tom Reiss’s The Black Count); winners of the Man-Booker International Prize (Han Kang’s The Vegetarian) and National Book Critics Circle Award; as well as defining commercial hit titles, such as Gone Girl, Evicted, and Ready Player One. In addition to working with Michelle Obama, who personally selected Stern to edit what became the best-selling memoir of all time, she also worked with Sarah Jessica Parker to develop her imprint for Hogarth, which Stern launched for Crown in 2012. Hogarth additionally launched the prize-winning, bestselling American careers of Sally Rooney, Anthony Marra, and Herman Koch, among others. Stern has most recently been advising Spotify on the build out of its audiobook business.
Michael Taeckens, Broadside PR
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Whitney Peeling, Broadside PR
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Zando combines a track record of best-in-class curation with a nimble business model that leverages both the influence of high-profile cultural figures and the reach of new distribution channels. In a publishing career spanning twenty-five years, founder and CEO Molly Stern has formed deep relationships with authors, agents and imprint partners. She has also been responsible for multiple winners of prestigious literary prizes, numerous bestsellers and the launch of internationally successful imprints, earning her a reputation as one of publishing’s most influential tastemakers. Zando is founded on her belief in the essential value of books, the enduring influence of great stories and powerful ideas, and the necessity of literary diversity. www.zandoprojects.com
SISTER was co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone to develop, produce and invest in visionary storytellers. SISTER builds upon Featherstone’s Emmy Award-winning scripted indie, Sister Pictures, as a new global entity with offices in London and L.A. It unites the expertise of the founders alongside a team of renowned creatives to make breakout stories for multiple platforms. Adding to the success of a slate of hit shows including Chernobyl (Sky/HBO) and Giri/Haji (BBC/ Netflix), SISTER is currently producing adaptations of Naomi Alderman’s literary phenomenon The Power for Amazon Studios and Adam Kay’s international best seller, This Is Going to Hurt for BBC and AMC. SISTER has also made a series of bold investments in new creator-led businesses including The Springhill Company, founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, Campside Media, a podcast studio, and AWA Studios, a comic book and digital media publisher.