October 23, 2018
Random House and Crown merge under PRH’s continued consolidation efforts
by Alex Primiani
Announced last Friday morning, two of Penguin Random House‘s (PRH) most successful publishing groups, Crown Publishing Group and Random House, are merging. For the New York Times, Alexandra Alter reports on the merger that comes “at a moment when big publishing houses are trying to adapt to the shift toward online retail and marketing.”
PRH’s chief executive of Penguin Random House U.S., Madeline McIntosh, released a memo explaining the developing merger to employees, reinforcing that both Random House and Crown “will retain their distinct editorial identities.” McIntosh also announced that Crown’s president and publisher Maya Mavjee will be leaving at the end of the year, and Random House’s president and publisher Gina Centrello will oversee the newly joined divisions.
Noting the recent trends in mergers and acquisitions throughout publishing in the last ten years, Alter calls the move “unexpected,” though “not surprising.” She continues, “when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, they created a behemoth, by far the biggest of ‘the big five’ publishing houses, which also include Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan. Penguin Random House’s sales total around 4 billion annually, and they operate around 275 imprints worldwide.”
For Publishers Weekly, John Maher includes more details from McIntosh’s memo, stating:
McIntosh attributed the move to “book discovery and buying patterns [that] continue to shift, resulting in growth opportunities in the nonfiction categories in which Crown in particular already has a strong foothold: food, lifestyle, health, wellness, business, and Christian. To further pursue this growth,” she added, “we will need to do two things simultaneously. First, we must expand and strengthen the expert publishing teams who are specialized in and dedicated to each category. Second, we must invest even more aggressively in title-level and scaled marketing programs, capabilities, and partnerships. This will ensure that we not only maximize the sales for each individual book but also keep pace with consumer trends. Both Crown and Random House have been keenly aware of these market opportunities and have been applying their impressive creative and entrepreneurial energies to meet them. I am confident that, teamed together, with joined talents, resources, and strengths, as a united division they will be able to move even more quickly and effectively.”
Within the PRH mega-corporation, Crown and Random House oversee 33 separate imprints, some of which publish some of the most successful authors of today: Ta-Nehisi Coates, George R.R. Martin, Gillian Flynn. Alter also reminds readers that Crown is set to publish both memoirs by the former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama later this November.
Alex Primiani is senior publicist at Melville House.