House of the Random Penguin

Peter Griffin
Updated: Jan 14, 2013 04:56:49 AM UTC

If you are on the Social Webs, and don't follow the publishing industry, you may have been mystified, in the last few days, with the multiple reference to a "Random Penguin."

What the lit world was talking about was that Pearson (owner of Penguin) was talking to Bertelsmann (Random House's owner) about merging the two iconic publishing brands, both among the 'Big Six' publishing empires worldwide. (The others: Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.)

Over the weekend, the rumours mills heated up as a story that it might be the Murdoch-owned HarperCollins that Penguin would tie up with instead. But that is now all past. It is now confirmed that it will be Penguin and Random House tying the knot after all. According to the press release:

Under the terms of the agreement, Penguin and Random House will combine their businesses in a newly-created joint venture named Penguin Random House. Bertelsmann will own 53% of the joint venture and Pearson will own 47%. 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.

Worldwide, this will mean the new entity will be a juggernaut, controlling some 30% of the market. Penguin is pretty much the best-known publishing brand in the world, and Random House is the leader in the UK and the USA. It will mean that the combined entity will enjoy considerably more heft with booksellers. For authors and agents, though, it's not quite the best thing in the world; they'll have one less publisher to sell to.

We asked the folks at Penguin India and Random House India what this meant for the local teams. Penguin India's VP, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Hemali Sodhi told us "It's going to be business as usual for the next nine to twelve months while integration plans are discussed." Carline Newbury, RHI's VP, Marketing & Publicity, said it was "too early for me to be able to comment."

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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