Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Penguin

Penguin Random House ~ What Does It Mean?

Will the proposed, new largest publisher of the former Big Six change the publishing business?

Will it successfully counter the Amazon foot-print?

Will anything substantial change?

While I feel the future of publishing will be some balance between “Full-Service” Publishers and thriving Self-Publishing, the remaining “legacy” publishers will need to learn from the self-publishers.

I found four sources with varied opinions on this merger.


First, Gavin James Bower, editorial director at independent publisher Quartet Books, in Penguin merger minuses could be pluses for indies:

“The reactions to news that the publishing arms of Bertelsmann and Pearson are merging, creating the biggest publisher in the world in Penguin Random House, can be summed up in one word: negative.”

“The merger is an example of the big boys battening down the hatches; no matter what they say, this isn’t about exploiting ‘high-growth emerging markets’.”

“In any recession, the vanguard is to be found beyond the mainstream—and risks taken by those typically seen as outsiders. Indies, as they always do, will be seen as the risk-takers in a climate of doom and gloom, nurturing talent and publishing books not deemed safe enough for the panicky, profit-driven corporations.”

The next source of opinion is from Andy Lewis, Staff Writer for The Hollywood Reporter—What the Random House-Penguin Merger Means for Authors (Analysis):

“The Oct. 29 merger of book behemoths Random House and Penguin not only creates the world’s largest publisher…it also will present a formidable challenge to the growing power of such digital distributors as Amazon and Apple. And some already are worrying that the consolidation will decrease opportunities for authors and drive down advances.”

“But some…have argued that the future of publishing is with pure digital players unburdened by legacy costs (like printing).”

“Still, the combination is likely to be just the first shoe that drops in publishing. When news of the Penguin-Random House talks leaked, News Corp. owner HarperCollins made a late offer for Penguin for a reported $1.6 billion. Now analysts are wondering which of the remaining “Big Six” (Macmillan, Hachette or Simon & Schuster) Rupert Murdoch will court next.”

Next is Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director at Digital Book World, in a Forbes article—Five Thoughts on a Penguin-Random House Merger: Rapid Reaction:

“Penguin and Random House, by many accounts the two largest trade publishers in the world, have agreed to merge operations. The deal will be subject to regulatory approval and isn’t expected to close until the second half of 2013.”

“When two large companies merge, there are cost-savings to be had in combining shared business functions.”

“The company would have 9,000 employees and would have locations in about 20 countries around the world, including China, India, all major English-speaking countries and many countries in the Spanish-speaking world.”

“It’s been speculated the Penguin Random House would control about 40% of the U.S. trade book business….That gives the company more negotiating power, specifically with its largest trading partner, Amazon.”

“…the larger Penguin Random House might have the negotiating power to squeeze better terms from agents and authors in exchange for unmatched marketing and distribution resources.”

Next are Eric Pfanner & Amy Chozick at The New York TimesRandom House and Penguin Merger Creates Global Giant:

“In announcing the agreement, the European owners of Random House and Penguin—Bertelsmann and Pearson, respectively—said Bertelsmann would control 53 percent of the combined entity and Pearson 47 percent.”

“The other four houses among the so-called Big Six are also owned by larger media conglomerates: HarperCollins, which is part of News Corporation; Macmillan, owned by Georg von Holtzbrinck of Germany; Hachette, whose parent company is Lagardère of France; and Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS. They could all now face increased pressure to consolidate in response to a combined Penguin Random House.”

“Small publishers with a niche focus and loyal groups of authors and readers might manage to remain independent, said Douglas McCabe, an analyst at Enders Analysis in London.”

“The combined company is expected to invest heavily in e-books and what Mr. Dohle [the new CEO] called digital product development. He said that did not necessarily mean it would produce its own e-reader device, as some in the industry expected.”

“Authors and literary agents, one step removed from the merger, have expressed concern about consolidation, fearing that they will lose leverage if there are fewer publishers.”

“‘The idea of this company is to combine the small company culture and the small company feeling on the creative and content side with the richest and most enhanced access to services on the corporate side’, Mr. Dohle said.”


Well now, I think we all know how leaders in mega-business can paint pictures that never translate to reality

Some folks feel this merger, as well as easily predicted further mergers, will not stave off Amazon’s growing power.

Some see the mergers as a prequel to more balance between digital and print.

Most people have no idea what will happen

Want to speculate in the Comments? :-)
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Writers Beware ~ One of The Big Six Just Got Trickier…

As if writers didn’t already have a rough time when getting ready to publish.

Legacy or Self-Publish? Shoot for an advance or pay for it myself? Which method of self-publishing?

I previously published a post called How Can Writers Avoid Being Scammed?

It appears there’s going to be a new wrinkle in the tortured landscape of publishing decisions.

Publishers Weekly reports Self-publishing Goes Big Time.

Penguin, Big Six publisher, buys Author Solutions, Big Scam

Try this Google search: author solutions writer beware

Or, check out David Gaughran’s article on IndieReader, Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers.

Even Jane Friedman weighed in

Any writer seriously looking to publish should read all those articles but let me share two excerpts.

From Mr. Gaughran’s article:

“Before they leave the clutches of Author Solutions, however, writers are subjected to never-ending phone calls hawking a string of overpriced, useless services, including the press releases described above. As such, the average customer spends around $5,000 over their “lifetime” with the company, but only sells 150 books.

“The performance of Author Solutions is so poor that the press release announcing the purchase by Penguin can’t even tout their own customers’ success, and instead lists self-publishing stars such as “Lisa Genova, John Locke, Darcie Chan, Amanda Hocking, Bronnie Ware and E.L. James” – none of whom used Author Solutions to publish their work.”

From Jane Friedman:

“Self-publishing isn’t exactly the future here. It’s rather making money off a growing number of people who are writing and seeking professional publishing services. As easy as it is to e-publish, it’s not a straightforward matter to navigate the options and produce a professional product that actually sells. Thus, there’s no shortage of people seeking assistance with DIY self-publishing, whether in print or electronic formats. Unfortunately, many people seeking help are not well-informed, don’t have the patience to research their options, and end up writing a big check to someone to make the headache go away. (And by doing so, they’ve assured their sales will be exactly the number of family and friends they can convince to buy their poorly edited, poorly designed book via Facebook wall postings.)”

My personal choice for self-publishing is FastPencil.

Yes, the author pays upfront.

I published Notes from An Alien in print and e-book and got a distribution contract to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and iPad for $250.

Go figure
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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