Dawn Davis Resigns as Bon Appétit Editor to Rejoin Simon & Schuster

Dawn Davis, a veteran book editor who was hired in 2020 to put Bon Appétit magazine back on track after mass resignations and allegations of racism at its parent company, Condé Nast, resigned on Tuesday. She will return to Simon & Schuster as the publisher of 37 Ink, an imprint she founded in 2013, and as executive editor of the Simon & Schuster trade imprint.

“I’ve made the difficult decision to return to book publishing,” Ms. Davis wrote in a note to her staff at Bon Appétit and Epicurious, the company’s recipe website. She said that she would remain in the job until September, and cited successes like “helping build Bon Appétit and Epicurious’ authority in the culinary industry, developing delicious and thought-provoking content, growing our audiences across channels, and diversifying our team and the audiences that we reach.”

But, she said in a public statement, “being away from books has only made me realize how much I love working on manuscripts.” She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In her first editor’s letter at Bon Appétit, in February 2021, Ms. Davis wrote that “when the call came to leave book publishing to take the helm at this storied magazine as it reckoned with racial and cultural equity, it was impossible to resist.”

She joined at a time of enormous upheaval at Bon Appétit, which became Condé Nast’s leading food title after Gourmet was suddenly closed in 2009. Although Ms. Davis’s editorial focus wasn’t on food and she hadn’t edited at a magazine, Anna Wintour, then Condé Nast’s artistic director and the chairwoman of its diversity and inclusion council, persuaded her to take the job.

Ms. Davis’s predecessor, Adam Rapoport, was a Condé Nast insider, having worked at GQ before becoming chief of Bon Appétit in 2010.

Mr. Rapoport resigned in June 2020, after a 2004 photo that showed him wearing an offensive costume was posted online by the food writer Tammie Teclemariam. But Bon Appétit staff members were already speaking out about longtime racial inequities in pay and career advancement. Ultimately, more than two dozen people, including stars of the magazine’s popular YouTube channel, left the magazine in protest.

When Ms. Davis returns to Simon & Schuster in September, she will be a member of the executive leadership team, and will report directly to the company’s chief executive, Jonathan Karp.

Ms. Davis first joined Simon & Schuster in 2013. Books she published there include “Never Caught” by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; “Tough Love” by Susan Rice; and best-selling titles by the comedian Kevin Hart and the weight-loss expert JJ Smith. Before joining Simon & Schuster, Ms. Davis was the publisher of Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins, where she edited “The Known World” by Edward P. Jones, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

She will rejoin Simon & Schuster at an unusual moment for the company. Penguin Random House, the biggest publisher in the United States, tried to buy Simon & Schuster for $2.175 billion, but last year a federal judge blocked the deal on antitrust grounds. Simon & Schuster’s parent company, Paramount Global, has said it still intends to sell the publisher.

Despite the uncertainty of a future sale, Simon & Schuster has posted tremendous results in the past year, even as other publishers have struggled with weaker earnings. It brought in $1.1 billion in revenue in 2022, the first time in its history the company hit more than $1 billion. Its operating income for the year, of $248 million, was also a record. The company said there was growth across the business, but some of its standout authors included Colleen Hoover, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jennette McCurdy and Stephen King.

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