The Guild, a century-old organization that represents thousands of published writers, announced Thursday that Rasenberger will succeed longtime head Paul Aiken, who has been diagnosed with ALS. Rasenberger will begin Nov. 3, with Aiken staying on as a consultant for two years.
Rasenberger is a partner in the law firm Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard and has an extensive background in intellectual property and technology. The Guild has been involved in numerous copyright battles, including a lawsuit against Google over the search engine's program of scanning snippets of published material.
"Mary brings with her exactly what the Guild needs today," Guild President Roxana Robinson said in a statement. "She's a proven leader, a brilliant copyright lawyer and — especially important to us — a devotee of the written word."
During a telephone interview Thursday, Rasenberger said "the big issue" right now is how authors can earn a living in the current environment. She cited the ongoing standoff between Amazon.com and Hachette Book Group over e-book revenues and the Guild's concerns that Amazon's push to keep e-book prices low is hurting authors. "My interest is that we continue to have a flourishing literary culture," she said.
Aiken announced last year that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Robinson praised him as "an advocate that both foresaw the challenges of the digital era and faced them head-on."