April 23, 2018

Penguin Random House Makes Changes at Top | PubCrawl

Francine FialkoffIn three post–Labor Day memos to Penguin Random House (PRH) staff, CEO Markus Dohle detailed the formation of the Penguin Publishing Group, consolidating all Penguin adult trade publishing (Penguin Adult and Berkley/NAL) under one roof. He named Madeline McIntosh, U.S. president and COO of PRH, to head the new entity and said that longtime Penguin president Susan Petersen Kennedy would be leaving at the end of the year.

The change affirmed Dohle’s confidence in McIntosh, who spent most of her career at the Bertelsmann-owned company—starting in 1994 at Bantam Doubleday Dell, with a brief hiatus as director of Kindle content acquisition for Amazon in Luxembourg in 2008–09.

“Madeline has been one of our greatest champions in identifying and implementing the opportunities for growth and innovation—particularly in the digital arena,” Dohle wrote. “In her corporate capacity, Madeline has gotten to know well our Penguin publishing, editorial, marketing, and sales colleagues and their lists. She has quickly become their ardent and knowledgeable advocate and supporter.”

In her own statement from PRH, McIntosh expressed her esteem for the Penguin team: “As a lifelong avid Penguin reader, I am humbled and thrilled to now join this publishing team full time. Since the merger, my admiration for the work of these world-class publishers, editors, designers, marketers, and publicists has become even stronger….I know we will learn a lot from each other.”

The change to “a one-leader management structure for the entire Penguin adult business,” said Dohle, was necessitated by an evolving marketplace and shifting consumer demand among formats. “[I]t is clear that capitalizing on our authors’ opportunities for growth will require even greater collaboration and coordination and even more unified publishing strategies across all formats…while also maintaining the identity of…individual publishing imprints.”

Dohle pledged to support the creative work of the various groups, which range from Penguin Books; G.P. Putnam; and Viking, Penguin, to Tarcher, Riverhead, Dutton, and more. And he made a point of praising Berkley/NAL president Leslie Gelbman as an “essential” member of McIntosh’s new team, calling her “a brilliant, nurturing editor and a visionary publisher.” In a separate memo on Kennedy’s departure, he called her “a leader with a brilliant mind who…combines a gift for the art and commerce of publishing.”

In response, Kennedy said, “I am leaving the company that I love, books that I love, people whom I love. I have spent so many years in the service of this enterprise; it will take time for me to discover where Penguin ends and I begin. However, the world is endlessly fascinating to me. And I am looking forward to further adventures in the arts.”

With McIntosh relinquishing her current roles, Dohle promoted Nihar Malaviya as EVP and COO, U.S. PRH, and Jaci Updike as president of sales.

A few days earlier, Dohle had revealed a major change at corporate communications, regarding Stuart Applebaum, longtime voice of the company: “Stuart…will step aside from his current responsibilities and assume a new full-time role that is as unique as he is: Emeritus Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications,” said Dohle. Applebaum, who started in publicity at Bantam 43 years ago, will continue to collaborate with Claire von Schilling, who’ll head corporate ­communications.

It’s little known in the library world, but Applebaum has a deep connection to both Queens Library and the Queens College Library (QCL), both “alma maters.” He credits them with giving him his career. So in 1999, when he turned 50, he donated $100,000 to Queens Library; in 2001, he did the same for Queens College Library.

“I essentially owe my early interest in having a career in book publishing to the [Queens Library]; every week I would visit either the Pomonok or central Jamaica branches to devour each new issue of Publishers Weekly. My foundation disbursements are my small way of paying back my bottomless debt of gratitude for the bountiful professional life the Queens libraries helped start me on,” said Applebaum.

Open Road Brings Out Poet Ashbery in Ebook Format

On September 15 Open Road Media announced the release of 17 titles by award-winning poet John Ashbery. It was the first time Ashbery’s books had been published as ebooks.

Poetry had long been a challenge to ebooks: stanzas and line breaks don’t lend themselves to easy conversion and often end up looking like prose. In fact, that’s what happened when Ashbery’s print publisher, Ecco: HarperCollins, attempted to bring out several titles a few years ago, according to the New York Times.

Of the current launch, Ashbery told the Times, “It’s very faithful to the original formatting…. Many of my poems have lines that are very long, and it’s important to me that they be accurately reproduced on the page,” he said. “The impact of a poem very often comes down to line breaks.”

LJ’s longtime poetry editor Barbara Hoffert agreed. “I’m glad to see the line break problem that has loomed so large over poetry and ebooks finally getting some resolution…because otherwise I think poetry, as shorter and more intensely experienced than prose, is well suited to ebooks: in a fast-moving world, I can…take in a poem on the grocery line, on the subway, while my nails are drying…and have a complete reading experience.”

Among the titles released were Some Trees, which launched Ashbery’s career, And the Stars Were Shining, April Galleons, and Rivers and Mountains. Surprisingly, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, which won the National Book Award (and the National Book Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer Prize) in 1976, was not among the titles. All of the books come with an introduction on how to read poetry on ereaders and tablets, a feature now included with all Open Road poetry titles.


This article was published in Library Journal's October 15, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Francine Fialkoff About Francine Fialkoff

Francine Fialkoff (ffialkoff@gmail.com) spent 35 years with LJ, and 15 years at its helm as Editor and Editor-in-Chief. For more, see her Farewell Editorial.