The Random House-Penguin merger became official this week, creating a mega-publisher the Authors Guild estimates controls at least 35 percent of the U.S. trade book market for fiction and narrative nonfiction.
The changes that most affect authors--namely any editorial layoffs, canceling of contracts or cutting of imprints that typically accompany mergers--haven't come to light yet. But the company has announced its new leadership team, with Markus Dohle, formerly CEO of Random House, serving as CEO of the new Penguin Random House and John Makinson, international head of the pre-merger Penguin, serving as chairman.
Dohle also holds the title of U.S. CEO of the new company, leading a team of top executives that come heavily from the Random House side of the merger.
When the companies announced plans to merge last fall, Guild president Scott Turow said that the move appeared to be motivated more by concerns over industry-wide consolidation than economies of scale and pointed out the repercussions for authors.
“Survival of the largest appears to be the message here. Penguin Random House, our first mega-publisher, would have additional negotiating leverage with the bookselling giants, but that leverage would come at a high cost for the literary market and therefore for readers. There are already far too few publishers willing to invest in nonfiction authors, who may require years to research and write histories, biographies, and other works, and in novelists, who may need the help of a substantial publisher to effectively market their books to readers.”
The new Penguin Random House has 250 imprints that publish a combined 15,000 titles annually. We'll keep you informed as the company takes shape.