Random House and Penguin Books merge

Oct 29, 2012 | Biz/Tech

By Patricia Brotzel

Publishing giants Penguin Books and Random House have merged – PHOTO BY PATRICIA BROTZEL

A merger between publishing giants Random House and Penguin Books will create the world’s largest publisher of books.

German company Bertelsmann SE & Co., which owns Random House, will have controlling shares of 53 per cent over the newly named Penguin Random House, according to CBC.

The CBC said Pearson PLC, owner of Penguin and the largest publisher of educational books in the world, would continue to use the Penguin brand in education.

In a press release , Bertelsmann said, “The new publishing group will include all the publishing divisions and imprints of Random House and Penguin in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, as well as Penguin’s publishing company in China, and Random House’s Spanish-language publishing operations in Spain and Latin America.”

Markus Dohle, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Random House will become the CEO of the new company and John Makinson, Chairman and CEO of Penguin will be made Chairman of the Board of Directors, the press release said.

Association of Canadian Publishers executive director Carolyn Wood gave her perspective on the merger.

“They need the merger in order to improve the bottom line, and in the process they make the market a little harder for consumers and writers,” Wood told Humber News.

Wood said with the merger it is unlikely each publishing house will continue producing the same quantity of work; most likely the market will see a reduction in material.

“In the case of writers, there are fewer choices of outlets for writers to be published,” said Wood. “It is a given that they won’t publish as many books this year, fewer titles will be published so there will be fewer choices for readers.”

The merger will also reduce competitors in the market, giving retailers fewer options, according to Wood.

Bertelsmann said in the press release that the conglomeration should not affect the autonomy of Random House and Penguin and each company will retain their editorial identities.

Combined, the new Penguin Random House will control 26 per cent of the world’s consumer publishing market, The Toronto Star said.