Penguin Random House publishers announce big changes

By December 22, 2019Literature, News

Big changes have been announced for one of the most famous names in book publishing.

Pearson Publishing, established in the 1800s, have owned Penguin for the 50 years but have announced plans to sell up as the company focuses exclusively on education.

It was announced this month that Pearson was selling its remaining stake in book publishing joint venture Penguin Random House. They had originally owned 47% of the partnership when it was set up in 2013.

In July 2017 they sold a 22% stake in the business to Bertelsmann, its German joint venture partner, for $1bn, then most recently sold the remaining 25% stake, to Bertelsmann for £530m.

This sale has been yet another nail in the British publishing coffin; now none of the ‘Big Five’ of English-language book publishing are in British ownership.

Just like Penguin Random House, the publishers Macmillian have been owned by German publishers Holtzbrinck, for the past two decades. The original publisher of novelists such as Jane Austen, John Murray, was bought by French company Hachette, in 2002.

HarperCollins, who were the original publisher of classic authors such as the Bronte sisters, has been part of US-listed News Corporation for 30 years. Simon & Schuster, founded in New York almost 100 years ago is also owned by a US media conglomerate.

Chief executives at Penguin have been slowly selling off assets since 2013, with the demise of the publishing house eventually becoming inevitable. While educational publishing has huge potential for growth, technology and speedy rate of change in society is being blamed for slow sales, and execs are feeling pressure to keep up with the transition to a digital world.

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