random house Posts

Kurt Vonnegut and Salman Rushdie, on writing

Kurt Vonnegut and Salman Rushdie, on writing

Joseph Anton

‘Are you serious about this writing business?’ Vonnegut unexpectedly asked him as they sat drinking beers in the sunshine, and when he replied that he was, the author of Slaughterhouse-Five told him, ‘Then you should know that the day si going oto come when you won’t have book to write and you’re still going to have to write a book.’ (Joseph Anton p.62).

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE Global Leadership Team, 1 July 2013 ( Press Release)

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE Global Leadership Team, 1 July 2013 ( Press Release)

Penguin Random House

CEO MARKUS DOHLE ANNOUNCES PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE GLOBAL LEADERSHIP TEAM

BERTELSMANN & PEARSON FINALIZE MERGER TRANSACTION

(July 1, 2013)—The global senior executive team for Penguin Random House was announced today by Chief Executive Officer Markus Dohle, following the closing of the transaction by shareholders Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA and Pearson this morning to formally establish the venture. Bertelsmann owns 53% and Pearson 47% of the company. Penguin Random House will combine the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India; Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and South Africa; Dorling Kindersley worldwide; and Random House’s companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. Random House’s German-language publishing group, Verlagsgruppe Random House, is outside the venture, and remains part of Bertelsmann, continuing to report to Mr. Dohle.

Between mid-February and early June, in order of review, Penguin Random House received governmental merger control approval in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, the European Commission, Canada, South Africa, and China, all without condition.

Penguin Random House will employ more than 10,000 people across five continents. It will comprise nearly 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that collectively publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.

Effective with today’s closing, Markus Dohle, Chairman and CEO of Random House worldwide since 2008, assumes the position of CEO, Penguin Random House, and John Makinson, head of the Penguin Group worldwide since 2002, takes on the position of Chairman of Penguin Random House. The Penguin Random House Board appointments were announced separately by Bertelsmann and Pearson this morning.

Mr. Dohle said, “Today, Penguin and Random House officially unite to create the first truly global trade book publishing company. As separate companies, we have long performed outstandingly by every benchmark; as colleagues, we will share and apply our passion for publishing the best books with our enormous experience, creativity, and entrepreneurial drive. Together, we will give our authors unprecedented resources to help them reach global audiences—and we will provide readers with unparalleled diversity and choice for future reading. Connecting authors and readers is, and will be, at the heart of all we strive to accomplish together.”

John Makinson said, “Penguin Random House starts life today as a freshly minted company, but also as a creative enterprise that will draw on the greatest legacies in the history of book publishing. That heritage will help to frame the culture and personality of Penguin Random House as we place our extraordinary shared resources at the service of our authors, our customers, our readers, and our colleagues. It is an exciting day for all of us.”

In announcing his senior executive appointments, Mr. Dohle said, “Our global and local leadership comprises proven executives drawn from both sides of the company who are inclusive and collaborative with colleagues in their decision making and who fully support our publishers and our authors in realizing their vision and objectives for our books.”

Effective immediately, the following newly appointed executives report to Mr. Dohle, who additionally serves as CEO for the Penguin Random House U.S. company:

Coram Williams, previously CFO for the Penguin Group, will serve in a dual capacity as Chief Financial Officer for Penguin Random House, in the U.S. and worldwide. Mr. Williams will also oversee the self-publishing business Author Solutions.

David Shanks has stepped down as CEO, Penguin Group (USA). He will serve as Senior Executive Advisor to Mr. Dohle and the U.S. executive team.

Madeline McIntosh, formerly Chief Operating Officer, Random House U.S., becomes President and Chief Operating Officer of Penguin Random House in the U.S.

Brad Martin, formerly President and CEO of Random House of Canada, is appointed CEO of Penguin Random House in Canada.

Tom Weldon assumes responsibility for Penguin Random House in the U.K. as CEO. He was previously Chief Executive Officer, Penguin Group UK.

Gail Rebuck will become Chair of the Penguin Random House U.K. Board.

Ian Hudson will serve as Deputy CEO of Penguin Random House U.K., a position he previously held at Random House UK. Separately, he will oversee Penguin Random House’s operations in Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and Asia in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer, Penguin Random House International (English Language).
Gabrielle Coyne will be CEO of Penguin Random House Asia Pacific and Gaurav Shrinagesh will be CEO of Penguin Random House India. Ms. Coyne previously served as CEO of Penguin Group Asia Pacific, and Mr. Shrinagesh as Managing Director of Random House India. Stephen Johnson will continue to lead Penguin Books South Africa. They will all report to Mr. Hudson.
Also, continuing in their current capacities:

Núria Cabutí, Chief Executive, leads the company in Spain and Latin America; it will operate under the name Random House Mondadori.

John Duhigg, Chief Executive, Dorling Kindersley, is responsible for Dorling Kindersley (DK) business worldwide.

Mr. Dohle announced the appointments of three executives with Penguin Random House global corporate responsibilities: Frank Steinert will be the company’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Stuart Applebaum will lead communications, and Milena Alberti will oversee corporate development, each having served in similar capacities at Random House. All will also have responsibility in the U.S. for their respective corporate functions.

Mr. Dohle also announced the newly formed Penguin Random House Global Executive Committee to work together with him to set the company’s strategic, operational, and publishing direction and priorities. The Committee’s members are:

Núria Cabutí; Gina Centrello, President and Publisher, Random House Publishing Group; Tony Chirico, President, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; Gabrielle Coyne; John Duhigg; Leslie Gelbman, President, Mass Market Paperbacks, Penguin Group U.S.; Ian Hudson; Barbara Marcus, President and Publisher, Random House Children’s Books; Brad Martin; Maya Mavjee, President and Publisher, Crown Publishing Group; Madeline McIntosh; Sonny Mehta, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; Susan Petersen Kennedy, President, Penguin Group U.S.; Andrew Phillips, Chief Executive Officer, Author Solutions; Frank Steinert; Don Weisberg, President, Penguin Young Readers Group U.S.; Tom Weldon; and Coram Williams.

Penguin Random House world headquarters are in New York City.

Penguin Random House (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/) is the world’s first truly global trade book publisher. It was formed on July 1, 2013, upon the completion of an agreement between Bertelsmann and Pearson to merge their respective trade publishing companies, Random House and Penguin, with the parent companies owning 53% and 47%, respectively. Penguin Random House comprises the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India, Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and South Africa; Dorling Kindersley worldwide; and Random House’s companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people globally across almost 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that collectively publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.

In 2012, Penguin Random House had pro forma revenues of £2.6bn (€3.2bn) and operating profit of £346m (€427m).

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Good Lit Versus Saleable Lit, PubSpeak, June 2013

Good Lit Versus Saleable Lit, PubSpeak, June 2013

PubSpeak, Jaya
( My column, “PubSpeak”, for June 2013 is on What constitutes good literature? It is published in BusinessWorld online. The link is: http://www.businessworld.in/en/storypage/-/bw/good-lit-versus-saleable-lit/r964342.37528/page/0 . It was uploaded on 29 June 2013. )

Good Lit Versus Saleable Lit

What is good literature? The fine, complex and well-crafted story that will survive over a period of time or is it literature that sells phenomenally well? The debate is on…

Some of my happiest childhood memories are sitting curled up in a chair and reading. I read and read. I bought books, I was gifted books, I inherited books. My brother and I browsed through encyclopaedias, books on art and museums, read fiction, non-fiction, and anything else in between. Call it by any name, but the pleasure of holding and reading a book was tremendous. In fact one of the canvases I painted was of my brother reading a Leslie Charteris “Saint” novel, borrowed from the library its red jacket visible while he lies on the bed absorbed in reading. We read voraciously. We read whatever came our way. I don’t recall anyone telling us that books were strictly by age or category. We liked a good story. Period.

Today it is different. In June 2013 award-winning German writer, translator and Publisher at Carl Hanser Verlag, Michael Krüger, said in Publishing Perspectives, the daily e-newsletter on publishing, “I only know there are good and interesting books, and bad ones. …Since book publishing became a mass-market business, the quality level is constantly sinking. But there are still very good books around, in every country! The problem is that people can’t get them because they are hiding.” Publishers are increasingly more careful about commissioning titles and work a great deal on the packaging and promotion of the books. Always with an eye on the market, reaching out to the regular customers and trying to connect with new readers. For instance titles for children are being classified according to age, to make it easier for customers to find authors.

New imprints are being launched especially for young adult literature (it is a booming market segment) – Inked (Penguin Books India), Red Turtle (Rupa Publications), Duckbill (Westland) and Scholastic Nova. The idea is to always have a pulse on the market. Some of the genres that are popular are commercial fiction, children’s literature, non-fiction, self-help, business and then there are new lists appearing – young adult/ tweens, cross-over titles, and speculative fiction.

Jaspreet Gill, a marketing executive who wandered into the industry a year ago, (and the publishing bug has bitten him) says “It is not an industry for the most part driven by Editorial (I thought it was), or the quality of content. The whole trade is driven by sales. The worth of a book is judged by how well it can be sold, or how much the author can spend and how well he can be utilised for marketing. This is also, with all due respect to them. They are smart salesmen, but that is all that they are, selling commodities, not presenting ideas, ideologies, and good literature. I sincerely believe that the reason for success of the authors of commercial fiction is not the quality of their content, but the price of the book, and visibility they are able to get at the retail stores. They are also clever marketers, and know how to sell their products to people.”

Somak Ghoshal, former literary fiction commissioning editor with Penguin Books, acquired some fine literature (Chitra Bannerji Divakurni, Anjan Sundaram, Neamat Imam and Shazaf Fatima Haider) says, “Commercial fiction sells. The print runs are staggering. The success of these titles allows the firm to acquire literature that in turn develops the brand of the firm. It is a symbiotic relationship.”

It raises the (eternal) question of what is good literature? What sells? And why? Does good literature equal saleable literature? Naveen Kishore, Publisher, Seagull Books, Kolkata (with offices in New York and London), offers an explanation “Like everything else, we need to question the ‘market’. After all, it cannot exist in a vacuum. To put it another way: without content — largely implying the labour of the author, the effort of the publisher and all the other players including the vital function that a translator plays — where would the market be? What would it ‘showcase’? What would it sell? And let us make no bones about the fact that ‘content’ is not simply and only about a certain swiftly ‘saleable’ kind of book. It is also about the arts and literature and culture and philosophy and thought that go into making us human. Again if we persist with our interpretation of what the market wants we will end up by not publishing 90 per cent of these subjects. What kind of a future will that be? It is in this context that the market has a responsibility and a proactive role to play. ‘It’ (the market) cannot be lazy about this and merely sit back and expect only the books that make the grade according to ‘its’ standards be accepted! The market has to learn to cater, feed, nurture tastes for literature that do not necessarily extend to the millions . . . always remembering that the first Kafka text only sold 800 copies! If the market had behaved as it does now we would never have had a Franz Kafka! It is in this context that I suggest that the market needs to find you.” Sterling Lord, literary agent to Jack Kerouac, Ken Casey, Gloria Steinem, and Berenstains reports in his memoir Lord of Publishing of Ted Geisel, editor, Random House who published the Berenstain bear stories that he insisted on the story being a page-turner. But it “wasn’t only the story that Ted focused on; he cared about the title page, the type, the paper, every phrase, every word, every rhyme, and every drawing.” The intervention of the editor created a book that would sell and launched a new author into the market. By March 2009, nearly fifty years after publication, The Berenstain Bears Go to School had sold 3,520,554 copies in North America alone.

Of course the notion of what constitutes “good” literature is subjective but it is obviously a challenge that plagues the industry worldwide. Is it literature that is fine, complex, well-crafted and tells a good story that will survive over a period of time or is it literature that sells phenomenally well and caters to the mass market? Can literary tastes even be defined? Eric Hobsbawm says it well in Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century, “… much good new writing is published that would never pass the profit threshold set by the accountants, because of non-market decisions.” No one really knows. Is it the author that creates a market with their storytelling or does the market create an author? Publishing continues. New authors are discovered. New readers emerge. The cycle continues.

As I file this column, it is announced that Penguin Books India has signed a two-book deal worth an estimated Rs 1.25 crore (approx $210,700) with Ravi Subramanian, popularly referred to as the John Grisham of banking. This follows close on the heels of Amish Tripathi, of the Shiva trilogy fame, who has inked a deal worth Rs 5 crore (approx $843,000) with Westland for his next series.

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose is an international publishing consultant and columnist.

“Our moon has blood clots” Rahul Pandita

“Our moon has blood clots” Rahul Pandita

Read. Stunned. Disturbed. Worried.

Enough said.

Rahul Pandita Our Moon has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits Vintage Books, Random House India. Hb. pp. 260 Rs. 499. Published in association with the New India Foundation.

From the eye of my mind, T G C Prasad

From the eye of my mind, T G C Prasad

A friend of mine, who has an autistic child, was discussing the lack of good and reliable literature on autism. Not necessarily about what is autism, but how to sensitise the community about what it actually means, understanding an autistic individual and the amount of patience, love and time it requires from the primary caregivers. Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal in Rain Man was probably only a small step in the direction but that was many, many moons ago.

Late last year, Random House India published T.G.C. Prasad’s From the eye of my mind. It is about eighteen-year-old Mallika, an autistic whose special skills lie in word games and being a voracious reader. She possesses a phenomenal memory but lacks all sense of context. The book is about Mallika’s agitation at the thought of her beloved older brother, Ananth, getting married and bringing a stranger into the house. A distressing thought for Mallika. It is a story sensitively told by the author, who minutely documents the characteristics of an autistic person, the worry that her parents have for her future and how it impacts their decision in bride-hunting for Ananth.

This is a book worth reading, sharing, discussing, using extensively in schools or programmes for autism. Of course it does have a Bollywood-like ending and could do with another round of proofing, nevertheless — read it. Here is the facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fiction-book-on-autism-From-the-eye-of-my-mind/401970173220062 .

T.G.C. Prasad From the Eye of my Mind Ebury Press, Random House India, 2012. Pb. pp. 306 Rs. 299 ( Also available as an eBook.)

On content in publishing, March 2013

On content in publishing, March 2013

Last week my BusinessWorld column focussed on the importance of content. (http://www.jayabhattacharjirose.com/jaya/2013/03/26/the-economics-of-electronic-content-if-the-e-content-falters-or-is-under-par-it-will-not-translate-into-a-sustainable-business-model/) It discussed how education publishers are growing. Trade publishers too want a slice of this pie and are busy reinventing themselves and introducing new verticals that focus on education publishing.

Since then there are three interesting pieces of news that I have come across:

16 March 2013 “..the global book conglomerate Random House is now hiring mostly statisticians and mathematicians in the United States, because CEO Markus Dohle has dubbed Random House a “data driven company”. ( “An Amazon problem: the book is dead, long live the book. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/amazon-problem-book-dead-long-live-book/story?id=18737681#.UVMv2Bxgcsw )

26 March 2013 The Bookseller ( http://www.thebookseller.com/news/bertelsmann-develop-education-business.html) announced that Bertelsmann is to develop education business with the long-term potential to generate €1bn in sales, it was revealed at the company’s annual results conference in Berlin this morning (26th March).

Meanwhile Random House chairman and chief executive officer Markus Dohle spoke of “possible further portfolios” in Latin America following its outright acquisition of Spanish-language publisher Random House Mondadori.
Last year Bertelsmann invested in the University Ventures Fund, which partners with entrepreneurs and institutions to establish “transformative” companies in post-secondary education. Today the German media group said it was pursuing a “comparable model” in education.

Thomas Hesse, executive board member for corporate development and new businesses, said the education sector offered considerable growth potential in China, India and Brazil, and a new business division would be created for Bertelsmann’s education activities. The education division would grow through “incubation, start-ups and gradual development over the years”, he said.

The news came as Bertelsmann reiterated a company strategy oriented towards growth, and digital and international initiatives, with chairman and c.e.o. Thomas Rabe saying it was Bertelsmann’s objective to increase sales share in the US, China, India and Brazil.

At the conference, Dohle indicated that further publishing acquisitions could be on the cards as the company looked to growth in emerging markets. The acquisition of the remaining 50% of Random House Mondadori last November “makes it possible to generate more growth in Latin America, organically and with possible further portfolios”, he said.

AND

27 March 2013 HMH Appoints First-Ever Chief Content Officer (DBW) http://click.digitalbookworld-hub.com/?qs=eb4fce5f18a52c20103018f3ccfe67589e9bff1bcbf4bf04a4debf9366e867ce
Mary Cullinane is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s first-ever chief content officer. She was formerly the head of innovation for Microsoft Education. She will lead the company’s content production and innovation efforts. Previously, she had been executive vice president of corporate affairs at the company.

Janice Pariat “Boats on Land”

Janice Pariat “Boats on Land”

An excerpt from an email exchange with Janice Pariat who recently published her debut collection of short stories — Boats on Land (Random House India, Hb), Nov 2012

Boats on Land (cover image), Janice Pariat

 

JB

: I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed reading the anthology. It has taken me back to the time we spent in Shillong. Much of what you write about is so familiar to me including the silence on the streets during the curfew, playing cricket and the unexpected violence. Your anthology is so focused on the Khasi life, stories, people, the richness of stories and histories that intermingle that at times it is difficult to separate them. (Somewhere I read a review that termed it as a North Eastern collection. I do not agree with it.) I also like the arrangement of stories in the book. Starting from mid-19C to the present day. There is a gentle walk through time. Many reviewers have termed your stories as nuanced but for me, you live and breathe Khasi culture. You are the perfect medium with your wonderful command over the English language to communicate it to the outside world. I am sure your stories have generated many positive reviews but they would resonate well with those who are familiar with Shillong. The casual references to ceremonies, familiar landmarks in the city, the mix of folklore and reality, the growing tensions, the dhakars….I love the way you create the characters many of whom I suspect are really etched after your sharp and astute observation of people and listening to stories. There is a deep sense of calm and confidence ( I do not know how to explain this to you) in your writing. It is as if you are completely at ease writing what you do, this is what you do best and will never be apologetic (nor should you be!) about who you are. I love the way you bring in Khasi words, references to the Kongs, the dishes, without necessarily explaining them to anyone! Thank heavens! High time someone did that. For years I have been hearing about it being critically analysed but rarely spotted it in print. All those questions that you have been asked in interviews about writers who inspired you or you like reading sound trite. You are an original voice. Truly loved what you have written. As for the lesbian question in an interview baffled me considerably. Was it asked on the basis of the kissing scene and the title story? I am really not sure what to make of it. Maybe in DHL’s time yes, but now? No. At least not to my mind. But that is for you to tell me.

Janice: … absolutely thrilled that you loved the stories and thank you for your extended feedback. So glad you connected with them in that intimate, special way. It cheers me up endlessly to know that my work is read and treasured.

Jeeves and Wodehouse, fascination with cricket

Jeeves and Wodehouse, fascination with cricket

Gosh! I had not a clue that Wodehouse’s fascination with cricket ran so deep. Jeeves, who made his first appearance on 15 Sept 1915, was named after Warwickshire all-rounder Percy Jeeves.
Source: Wodehouse at the Cricket: A Cricketing Anthology

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