Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, October 29, 2012

Penguin Random House


It's official - Penguin and Random House are merging their book business into "Penguin Random House."

The initial reaction has focused mainly on the combined power the new behemoth will have to combat Amazon, though surely there are benefits in consolidation as well as the companies wind down print operations in the transition to the e-book era.

For authors, it will be interesting to see whether Penguin and Randon House imprints will continue to bid separately on projects or whether there will be a single house bid. If it's the latter, that will have large implications as competition is reduced.

And, well, I guess this means I'm soon to be a Penguin Random House author.

What do you think of the merge?






33 comments:

Sophie Playle said...

My initial reaction was a wash of skepticism with a dash of dread, since the merge means bigger superpowers in the publishing industry, with bigger monopolies.

However, I think there are some positives that could come from this... Which I discuss on my blog (http://sophieplayle.com/is-there-an-up-side-to-the-penguin-random-house-merger/)

Bob said...

How are they going to "battle" Amazon? Two very different entities.

And while NY is at least a year or two behind the digital age, making a larger entity certainly isn't going to enhance change when they're going to spend their time learning to merge, rather than advance. Small, agile publishers are the wave of the future and this was a step in the wrong direction.

Kathryn Rose said...

For the love of God, PLEASE go with Penguin House BECAUSE A HOUSE OF PENGUINS. HOW CAN YOU NOT?

Juturna F. said...

I was hoping for Random Penguin House. Drat.

Julie Luek said...

And writers with projects everywhere hope for the best but brace for the worse.

I think Bob makes a good point about the competition with Amazon and the viability and flexibility of smaller publishers.

Doug said...

I think this might have some interesting effects on the DoJ e-book pricing lawsuit. Random House isn't a defendant, and they hold controlling interest in the new company.

In addition, the DoJ has mainly been asking for the defendants to negotiate new contracts with the booksellers, sans the Required Ebook Pricing and Most Favored Nation clauses. But they can't impose such restrictions on Random House, so will DoJ be able to do anything about Penguin Random House's contracts?

Marva Dasef said...

Too bad the Sherman Anti-Trust laws have been thrown out. Monopolies are always SO good for consumers. Taft-Hartley will take care of those snooty unions and, voila! The serf system is complete for big publishing.

Josin L. McQuein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josin L. McQuein said...


( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20126364)"The companies said their brands, or imprints, would retain their editorial independence." So that should mean that, for the most part, the imprints stay intact and competitive.

Hopefully this won't mean a huge turnover in personnel.

I guess I'm now a Penguin Random House (please tell me that's going to be hyphenated) author, too. (Was "Random Penguin" so much to ask for? Come on, guys! Think edgy!.) :-P

(And keep yourself safe up there on the East Coast.)

Anonymous said...

I think the only real impact is that there will be even fewer slots for new authors to seek traditional publication. The merger isn’t going to create a new company that is larger than the sum of its parts. Instead, it will combine units together and be smaller than the two companies are as separate entities.

Tom Franklin said...

I prefer the name "Random Penguin House." Much more fitting, methinks.

Hart Johnson said...

I guess I will be, too... I would imagine there is some consolidating of competing imprints which might hurt a little, but broadly, something to compete with Amazon is probably good...

And I ALSO prefer Random Penguin...

CoreyHaim8myDog said...

I think it's a logical move given the situation. But I also think this isn't going to help long term. They still have considerable overhead. The number I've heard for collective savings is about ten percent. I expect that the full conversion to ebooks will reduce profits by a considerable amount more. At the end of the day this is a necessary move, but ultimately isn't likely to save jobs in the industry.

Anonymous said...

If this does in fact make traditional publishing that much more difficult to step into, I would think people would start turning to self publishing as an alternative. So will this conversely lead to the expanse of self publishing? I partly hope so, only because it's nice to know that if you are forever rejected by traditional publishing, you have a fallback that would seem a little more sensible than before when your chances were higher.

And yes, Random Penguin was the way to go.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's very good for authors or agents. It limits the number of big houses where books can be shopped. I know they say nothing will change. But it will. In a way it's like the scaling back of large publishing houses.

I'm also interested in seeing if the feds let this happen. They have to approve it first.

Anonymous said...

Be safe with Sandy. If they say evacuate, do it :)

Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks! I'm hunkered down in Brooklyn, well out of the evacuation area. It's been relatively calm so far for me with a few crazy gusts.

Miriam Joy said...

I think Random Penguin House would have been a better name, if I am honest... ehehe :D

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Random Penguin - a completely missed opportunity for an awesome name. Just sayin...

AM Riley said...

2I'm with the consensus, above. Random Penguin, which evokes a nice image of penguins turning up here and there for no apparent reason.

Peter Dudley said...

Thanks! I'm hunkered down in Brooklyn, well out of the evacuation area. It's been relatively calm so far for me with a few crazy gusts.

Glad you're in a good area. Though I had to read this twice. I thought you had crazy guests.

To be honest, the whole merger has hit me sort of like the Giants winning the World Series must hit most New Yorkers in the middle of a hurricane. With a kind of a "Huh, that's probably interesting to people with a vested interest in the topic, but I don't see how it affects me."

thewriteedge said...

Is this a case of "safety in numbers"? Maybe Penguin and Random House simply want to beef up their existing resources to fight against Amazon and other emerging e-publishing platforms...

Nathan, hope you and everyone else are safe there in NYC!

Lexa Cain said...

Peter Dudley - I read it as "guests" too. Gave me a few odd images and chuckles. lol

My predictions for the future of publishing:
~ All the big houses developing e-book imprints.
~ The gradual lowering of e-book prices.
~ The majority of authors receiving lower advances.
~ Agents having to take on more clients to keep their bottom line.
~ More authors debuting, but with the e-imprints.

Mira said...

Nathan, I'll join in the good wishes for your safety, first, and your power to stay on, too! You sure picked an exciting time to move back! :)

So, in terms of the topic, I am deeply disappointed they didn't pick my version of the name: House of Penguins. It's the best name ever, and I hope they read this, change their mind and pick it.


As for the merger, I think it's inevitable. We'll see more of that over the next few years: mergers, buy-outs, maybe bankruptcies, or transitions to selling other goods or services.

As much as I dislike the Big Six, and welcome digital technology, it does feel alittle sad to watch a technological shift taking place. Mostly because of the inevitable lay-offs.

They will all keep merging, etc., until they are subsumed by one of the digital giants. Print publishing will fade. Their function won't be needed anymore. Writers need someone to sell their books. All other services are optional and can be piecemealed out. There won't be a need for huge congolmerates anymore.

Marion said...

Random Penguin.
And the proposed logo is a ridiculous waste of ink!

Allyse said...

As a Random House author, I'm excited! I feel like we're those babies given double-barrelled surnames because BOTH their parents are cool.

My two cents: I really wanted Haus of Peng.

Stay safe, Nathan! Even here in Australia, we're getting news reports of weather-casters standing knee-deep in floodwaters, looking ridiculous while explaining to us what you guys can tell from your windows.

Anonymous said...

Yvette Carol said...

The comments gave me a laugh. I loved the 'Random Penguin' moniker too.

I'm curious to know, what the combined entities are going to offer, which they didn't before?
It almost seems like a clever marketing ruse, to get the focus onto themselves...

I do feel that this is just one small part of the seizmic shifts that may start to avalanche soon in the publishing industry. Batten down the hatches!

Anonymous said...

Lexa Cain,

You bring up a good point. Harper’s new Voyager imprint is Ebook Only. They do not pay advances, but do offer the full suite of publishing goodies like editing, design and promotion.

I have a feeling that this will be the model of the future. Perhaps one day publishing will be free of the concept of the advance for all but the most successful authors. This may open some doors, due to the lower cost, but it will also mean lower author profits too.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Guess I'm a Penguin Random House author, too. Weird, weird, weird.

Glad to hear you're safe!

Norma Beishir said...

I can't believe the government will allow it. But if they do, they should call it Penguin House. Makes it sound like the zoo, and publishing's always been a zoo.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I think they should have been called "Random Penguins in 'da House" - would definitely up the cool factor.

Seeley James said...

Nathan, glad to hear you've survived!

The Wall Street Journal listed the planned consolidations, but keep in mind that a Joint Venture is not the same as a merger. The JV model allows them to retain the profits if the JV survives the next five years without having to deal with liabilities. You will recall Pearson refused to settle the antitrust case with either the US or the EU. Plus, they have to reinvest big time for the short-term and that will drag share price ... unless you spin-off a JV.

It's actually quite clever.

Peace, Seeley

Erlinda Jean said...

For the love of God, Please I need my royalties...none of my books that got published by them Penguin Random House has send me my royalties....so far not happy with this company.

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