Bookish Topic Tuesday – Penguin Random House

Bookish Topic Tuesday

Penguin Random House

Yesterday saw a momentous decision in book publishing, the merger between Penguin and Random House was agreed upon and officially signed off. They decided to call it Penguin Random House (though I think Random Penguin House would have been cooler, or just Random Penguin), and it will control around a quarter of the publishing market, which means around 1 in 4 books you will buy, will be published by Penguin Random House!

The company will have 10,000 employees, across five continents, and they are promoting themselves as a ‘truly global publishing house’. It will publish around 15,000 new titles a year, which compared to the 2.2 million published each year isn’t all that much, but, those 15,000 books are by some of the most well known, and well loved, authors in the world! With publishing houses in Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay and the USA, a total of 23 worldwide, it certainly spans the globe.

But is such a monopoly, a good thing for authors and readers alike? The top 10 publishing companies, account for nearly half the revenue of all publishers (English-language publishers that is), which is quite a lot, considering all those top 10, have revenues up in the $2 billion range, with Penguin’s Pearson group up at a staggering $8 billion, so Penguin Random House will have over $10 billion in revenue! Sure they’ll have costs for that, but once again, that’s a lot of money.

I guess for authors it’s a bit of a paradox, that for the bigger authors, having a big publishing house under them is a good thing, they can get bigger contracts, since more books can be sold, as more money can be spent in promotion (at least you’d hope the authors would get more money!), and they can keep getting contracts from those companies, without too much hassle (you’d once again hope). But, for the unknown authors, it can make it very hard to get into the game, because most of these publishing companies don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, so, unless you can get a good agent, you don’t really have a chance.

And if one company controls that much of the market, then what is there to stop then doing as they please with prices, whilst increasing profits? And what is there to stop them ripping off authors? I’m not sure. But this isn’t a post condemning Penguin Random House, and calling for a boycott. I just think people should consider where and how they buy their books, and question how much the author really gets. And support the lovely small independent publishers, like Ford Street Publishing, and countless others!

Penguin Random House’s Official Website

The World’s 54 Largest Book Publishers – Publishers Weekly


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