The trick to making the Random House/Penguin Group merger work will be to create a publisher that can take advantage of the resources and economies of scale a company with revenue of $4 billion brings and combine that with an editorial approach that emphasizes close cooperation with authors, said the two men charged with forming Penguin Random House, in separate interviews with PW. RH chairman Markus Dohle, who will be CEO of Penguin Random House, said his goal is to leverage the resources of the new company while creating a small company culture where publishers, authors, and editors can feel at home. That can be done, Dohle said, by maintaining distinct imprints and publishing groups. John Makinson, Penguin Group chairman, and who will be chairman of PRH, said he is committed to ensuring that the new house maintains “a personal touch.”
Dohle is convinced that the merger will bring benefits to all stakeholders—authors, agents, booksellers, employees, and readers. One of the most important aspects of the larger PRH will be its ability to do more to keep bricks-and-mortar stores viable, Makinson said. For a while, Makinson told PW, he has been worried that because of the uncertain nature of the distribution and retailing landscape, publishers were becoming “risk averse.” PRH will be in a position to innovate and take some chances, Makinson said. PRH will be able to make investments “that sustain physical retail, while also investing in the digital space,” Dohle explained. He also talked about innovation and the ability to invest in product development as among the benefits of PRH. Dohle said he wants to provide editors and publishers with “the best tools available” to create the next generation of books, be they published in print or digital form. Even as digital sales grow, print will remain a very important part of a publisher’s mix, and a publisher the size of PRH will be best suited to manage that transition, Dohle said. PRH will redefine the value proposition for authors and readers by investing in ways to help readers find books, Dohle said. Both men also agreed that their goal in integrating the two companies will be to merge back-office functions while causing as little disruption as possible to the publishing side of the business. Integrating two companies the size of Penguin and Random will not be easy, but it can be done, the two said.
“We will need to forge a personality for this company, drawing on the strengths of our two parents and on the legacies of our two publishing companies, but shaping a working culture that is forward looking and imaginative, global in scope and yet local in focus, friendly and informal,” Makinson wrote. “It will take us a while to get there. New companies take time to mature, however glorious and distinguished their antecedents. But I have no doubt that we have everything that we need—the authors, the imprints, the brands, the scale, and the people—to make this a company of which we can all be proud.”