Readersforum's Blog

November 2, 2012

Penguin merger minuses could be pluses for indies

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:01 am

Secondhand wisdom … a reprint of an early Penguin Classic

The book trade’s response to the creation of Penguin Random House has been largely despairing – but there is new hope for independents.

By Gavin James Bower

The reactions to news that the publishing arms of Bertelsmann and Pearson are merging, creating the biggest publisher in the world in Penguin Random House, can be summed up in one word: negative. There are, however, three strands to this glass-half-emptiness – and all of them, when you scratch beneath the surface, spectacularly miss the point.

First, there’s pessimism – evident in bleak industry forecasts right, left and centre based on the current state of the trade, in its worst shape in living memory. Print sales are falling – down 11% in 2011, the trend continuing in 2012 – while bookshops, both specialist and chain, are closing. Borders has gone, Waterstones is in turmoil, and independent booksellers the length and breadth of the country are vanishing. Publishers, meanwhile, are being squeezed by the last remnants of the High Street, struggling to make established margins pay. Last but not least, advances are falling, the midlist novelist looking like an endangered species and writing for a living no longer an option for the vast majority of published let alone aspiring authors.

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October 29, 2012

Penguin/Random House merger confirmed

Markus Dohle

29.10.12 | Benedicte Page

Pearson and Bertelsmann have confirmed that Penguin and Random House are to combine into a new consumer publishing organisation, Penguin Random House, with the merger expected to complete in the second half of 2013.

Bertelsmann will own 53% of the new venture and Pearson 47%; Bertelsmann gets five directors on the new board and Pearson four. Current Penguin chairman and chief executive John Makinson will be chairman of Penguin Random House with Random House chief executive Markus Dohle in the chief executive role for the new company.

However the joint venture will exclude Bertelsmann’s trade publishing business in Germany and Pearson will retain rights to use the Penguin brand in education markets worldwide.

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