The Scariest Woman in Publishing

Throughout the years, working at bookstores, I would hear people whisper about Judith Regan. It was like hearing people talk about Regina in Mean Girls.

“If you make her mad, she’ll sue you. Publishers are scared of her.”

“Judith Regan’s the most successful woman in publishing. She’s made over $170 million for her publisher.”

“She can come into any bookstore and get people fired.”

“Someone told me that Judith Regan forces her employees to have sex with her.”

“She has man hands. Some people think she’s really a man.”

I laughed hard, thinking about that Seinfeld episode where Jerry dates a woman with “man hands” but my co-worker was serious. Nevermind the fact that this Judith Regan figure, an attractive woman who started in publishing in the 1970’s, graduated from Vassar College and loved the arts.

Then there was an article in the back of a magazine about how they thought she had more sexual partners than Wilt Chamberlain. She is also a dominatrix and you can read about it HERE.

Women like that scare men to death.

She had discovered Gregory Maguire (Wicked) and worked for decades for big name publishers, but all of the stories I was hearing made her sound like a combination:


Related image



It was as though the fear she inspired was overshadowing her success. I’m not a feminist but would things be different if she weren’t Judith but “Jerry” the guy who has a lot of sex and demands what he deserves from his company? The man who gets Kardashian-ish books published and rakes in the money for having done so? The guy who gave O.J. Simpson $600,000 to write a book about how he would have killed his wife if he had been the killer?

Yeah, so that was a thing.

Judith Regan, working for Harpercollins at the time (2006), struck a deal with O.J. Simpson for his ghostwritten cash grab, If I Did It which we had to pull from bookstores because of lawsuits submitted by the Goldman family. It was eventually released to the public and rose up the bestseller charts at warp speed. A hardback, 1st edition is selling for $2,200 online.



If you have really good eyes, you’ll see the “if”.


Regan was given HELL for the book’s publication. The media, the Goldmans, and goodhearted people who don’t like murder, needed someone to lash out at and Judith Regan was it. She was crucified in the media and called out for trying to capitalize on the killing of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

This wasn’t Judith’s first rodeo. She cut her teeth at the National Enquirer. She produced Geraldo and worked with Howard Stern and Jenna Jamison. Am I painting a picture here?

She uncharacteristically played nice and tried to quell the outrage by pointing out proceeds are going to victims families and that everyone involved was very sorry for everything. I’m sure that she probably hated every minute of it. Despite her efforts to calm people down, she was fired for what her boss (News Corp) considered a poor taste interview (that they promoted) and a badly constructed book release but she sued and won $10.75 million. Don’t you people know any better?

Judith Regan still looks 30. It’s quite unsettling. Sort of like she’s Elizabeth Bathory, bathing in the blood of virgins, somewhere. She’s also had an attitude for the last 30 years and she’s not changing for anyone. Critics have declared her washed up numerous times, especially after the O.J. media fiasco. What people realize too late is that she’s one step ahead of you and she’s good at what she does: sensationalism and dirty news. This is what everybody wants, this is what everybody buys.

Phaidon Press, a massively upscale publisher that specializes in high end art books, was up for sale in 2013 and she tried to buy the company. Who does that? She lost the bidding fight but won the war when Phaidon gave her her own imprint in their company. I told you. Judith can get ANYTHING.

It only strengthens my belief that Judith Regan has dirt on everyone in the publishing industry. Remember, she was around for the swinging 80’s, a time in the literary world when there were pits of money to dive in, drugs and sex everywhere, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux would probably send their authors hookers if they wanted them.

I actually like the idea of a woman so Teflon, so butch, so vicious that men curl up when she’s around. This woman may fight dirty but she always wins.


Nicolina Torres
Nicolina Torres

Nikki worked for Barnes & Noble for 15 years, in seven stores. She is the author of This Red Fire, Young Nation, and Girls Who Wear Glasses. She prefers to live in the country and is a new aunt to a potential bookworm.

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Free Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter. We don't spam.