In-Depth Stories

Interview with Jen Loja, President, Penguin Young Readers, and Barbara Marcus, President & Publisher, Random House Children's Books

Our children’s book business around the world is bringing our authors’ stories to children everywhere and fostering a universal passion for reading. In the U.S., Jen Loja, Penguin Young Readers, and Barbara Marcus, Random House Children’s Books, oversee two of the largest Children’s Publishing groups in the country. Read on to learn what makes their divisions unique in the U.S. market, how to inspire children to become lifelong readers, and what drew Barbara and Jen to Children’s Publishing.


Interview with Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children's UK

Our children’s book business around the world is focused on growth. Read on for an interview with Francesca Dow, who oversees children’s  books at PRH UK, as she offers insight on broadening readership diversity for children’s books.  


Q:  What are your priorities for the children and young adult market in 2019?

Francesca Dow

A:  Growth is very much on our agenda. Growth in some ways is quite simple: It’s about publishing more, even better books. But beyond this, in terms of long-term opportunity, we believe we have a few key ways to build on our own diversity and strength of publishing and to reach into different markets. We have created a talented team to focus on the preschool market relaunch of Ladybird, our trusted, playful brand for young kids. This summer sees the unveiling of our brand-new range of novelty, board and picture books. We’re thrilled about our new Ladybird partnership with our colleagues at Penguin Young Readers, US, and we are currently exploring Ladybird collaborations in other key territories.


Interview with Tara Walker, Vice President and Publisher, Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

Our children’s book business around the world is focused on growth. Read on for an interview with Tara Walker, who oversees children’s books at PRH Canada, as she offers suggestions on how we can encourage children to become lifelong readers.

Q:  What are your priorities for the children’s and young adult market in 2019? In which areas do you see opportunities for growth?

Tara Walker

A: There are so many exciting opportunities for growth in the market right now–it’s truly a new golden age for children’s books.  At Penguin Random House Canada, we’ve had phenomenal success with Ben Clanton’s early graphic novel series about the characters Narwhal and Jelly, which points to the increasing appetite for graphic novels for kids. We’re committed to growing the brand and developing funnier, graphic-driven fiction for emerging and newly independent readers.


Interview with Rebecca Smart, Managing Director, Publishing, DK

Our children’s book business around the world is focused on growth. Read on for an interview with Rebecca Smart, who oversees DK’s five publishing divisions, as she discusses trends in the global children’s market and the importance of author brands. 

Q:  What are the current trends that drive book sales for youth-focused content and brands, and where do you see opportunities for growth?

Rebecca Smart

A:  The current turbulent environment is creating so many opportunities for children’s publishing. Children want to understand what is happening and are incredibly engaged in many local and global issues. Books are a great way to help them see multiple perspectives on the world, to work out how they fit in, and what they can do to make the world a better place.


Interview with Gemma Xiol, Directora literaria Infantil, Juvenil & Cómic, PRH Grupo Editorial

Our children’s book business around the world is focused on growth. Read on for an interview with Gemma Xiol, who oversees children’s books at Grupo, as she offers favorite growth ideas that might be adapted internationally.


Q:  How are you capitalizing on evolving technologies and cutting-edge engagement tools?

Gemma Xiol Català

A:  This is actually one of the most exciting editorial challenges we’re facing and one of our biggest areas of growth. New apps and tools are definitely creating new ways to promote our books, but they also provide amazing opportunities for content creation. In fact, some of our top-selling titles in 2018 come from platforms such as Tik-Tok, Instagram, Twitch, or YouTube. Children and teenagers are the ultimate early adopters, so we have to keep up with their pace. Putting the focus on innovation in order to stay connected with our audience is definitely one of our top strategic priorities.


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Interview with Amanda D'Acierno, President & Publisher, PRH Audio Group

Penguin Random House’s audiobook business is an essential pillar of our global growth strategy for 2019 and beyond. Read on for an interview with Amanda D’Acierno, who oversees Audio at Penguin Random House US. 


Q: First, congratulations on your five 2019 Audie Awards. What a wonderful recognition for you and your team. Now, the audiobook business in the US is one of the fastest-growing publishing areas for Penguin Random House. How do you account for the current boom in the demand for audiobooks and what is the outlook for the next few years?

Amanda D’Acierno

A: One of the major growth factors in the digital era has been increasing the number of titles we’ve produced each year – in 2018 we published more than 1,400 titles, up from 650 in 2014, the first year we operated as a combined Penguin Random House Audio team. We’ve expanded our staff, built additional studios in our offices in New York and Los Angeles, dedicated more resources to promoting the audiobook format and our titles, and created a proprietary archive and distribution system. 


Interview with Hannah Telfer, Managing Director, Audiences & Audio, PRH UK

Romesh Ranganathan reading Straight Outta Crawley

Penguin Random House’s audiobook business is an essential pillar of our global growth strategy for 2019 and beyond. Read on for an interview with Hannah Telfer who oversees Audio at Penguin Random House UK. 



Q: Congratulations on your recent Audie Award for THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: Hexagonal Phase by Eoin Colfer & Douglas Adams. 
The digital audio growth is expanding our authors’ reach by attracting new consumers. What does the demographic for audiobooks look like in the UK?

Hannah Telfer

A: Audiobooks have played a critical role in reaching audiences we traditionally find harder to reach with our books – younger men.  This remains the case with the single biggest group of purchasers of audiobooks in the UK, men aged 25-34.  However, as audiobooks become more mainstream, we are starting to see the audience evolve with the biggest increase in listeners coming from women aged 35 – 44 and, for the first time, the majority of audiobooks being purchased by those aged over 35.  As we look to grow the overall market for books, we’ll remain focused on reaching audiences who are not heavy book-buyers and find creative ways to persuade them to convert some of their media time from formats like podcasts to audiobooks.


Interview with Marion Garner, VP & Deputy Publisher, PRH Canada

Penguin Random House’s audiobook business is an essential pillar of our global growth strategy for 2019 and beyond. Read on for an interview with Marion Garner who oversees Audio at Penguin Random House Canada


Q: PRH Canada launched an audio division in 2017. What were your first steps toward building a successful audiobook business and what are your goals for the next few years?

Marion Garner

A: When Audible and Kobo announced their plans to launch digital audiobook sites in Canada we quickly leapt into action. Having the great resource of our U.S. colleagues at PRH Audio was a huge advantage. The advice they provided as to what kind of human resources and technical help we needed was priceless. And we were able to find the right people, especially Ann Jansen, our Director of Audiobook Production, who came with extensive experience in radio and audiobooks after years with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), alongside studios in Toronto and across the country willing to step into this uncharted territory.


Interview with Carmen Ospina at PRH Grupo Editorial

Penguin Random House’s audiobook business is an essential pillar of our global growth strategy for 2019 and beyond. Read on for an interview with Carmen Ospina, Director of Marketing, Analytics and Business Development at PRH Grupo Editorial. 


Q: There has been an increased demand for Spanish-language audiobooks in your territories. Can you speak to the differences in your various markets and the collaborative efforts with your US colleagues?

Carmen Ospina

A: Yes, demand has increased and it will continue to grow as important players like Audible and Storytel open their dedicated Spanish-language storefronts in Spain, Mexico, the U.S. and other Spanish-speaking territories. Although this will likely change in time, most of our sales today come from the United States, where the audiobook market is more mature and the format is widespread.


Interview with Marina Pastore, Digital Projects Manager at Companhia das Letras (Brazil)

Penguin Random House’s audiobook business is an essential pillar of our global growth strategy for 2019 and beyond. Read on for an interview with Marina Pastore who oversees Audio at Companhia das Letras


Q: The audio business in Brazil is still in its infancy. How are you building your initial portfolio of audiobook titles?

Marina Pastore

A: For our initial collection of titles, we’ve chosen to produce a range of books in different categories, selecting both new releases as well as best-sellers and classics from our catalogue. The first few months of sales data show that nonfiction titles, especially in the business and self-help genres, have been the most successful, so we’ve adapted our production plan to focus more heavily on this area.


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Broadcasting & Informing, Giving Voice to Authors & Ideas

We continue to increase our footprint in the global consumer marketplace in uniquely creative and entrepreneurial ways: In the UK, Penguin opened a pop-up shop designed to amplify women’s literary voices. In South Africa, we launched the first Struik Nature Eco Library populated with the entire Struik Nature catalogue. In China, brand and imprint “passports for readers” will be distributed to celebrate Penguin Random House’s 5th anniversary.


Championing The Book and Long-Form Content

Part of our company’s mission is to foster a universal passion for reading. Our colleagues worldwide support this goal through the volunteer work they do, whether they help children improve their reading skills or discover and nurture new voices from under-represented communities.


Embracing Content and Serving as Cultural Connector

Books have the ability to reflect the temperature of our times and to chronicle cultural history. Our publishers and editors around the world are the curators of this enduring content. Our marketing, publicity, and sales teams help raise awareness and build buzz that sparks readers to read and rally around out books worldwide.


Building An Audience for Our Authors and Their Books

Endowing our authors with unparalleled resources to help them reach the widest possible audience is a crucial priority for Penguin Random House. To accomplish this objective, our colleagues focus on innovative, reader-centric initiatives, collaborate cross-divisionally to promote titles globally, and get our books into the hands of readers faster than ever before.


Entertaining Through Storytelling and Expanding Readers’ Minds

What connects us most are books. They are at the core of what we do at Penguin Random House and who we are. Books we love to share unite us under the spell of a great reading experience. Find out which books your colleagues from around the world have loved reading—and you may win a bag filled with summer reads. For your chance to win one of 10 tote bags filled with the recommended titles, write with the subject line: “Favorite Books“. There will be a random drawing to determine the winners.


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Nurturing Penguin Random House's Talent Community

Paul Bogaards and Rick Bragg (© Nicholas Latimer)

“Talent attracts talent” is a mantra and a mission for Penguin Random House, driven by our best-in-class authors and co-workers. Colleagues share their thoughts on why attracting and maintaining the very best talent and collaborating cross-divisionally as well as globally is instrumental to our success.


Going Beyond Our Books to Give Back to Our Communities

From organizing food drives for Asylum Seekers to working with victims of gender violence or supporting ex-serving force members who are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These examples illustrate how we impact society and that our colleagues consider our Social Responsibility efforts an important part of our brand.


A Closer Look at Two of Our Publishing Businesses in Emerging Markets

Who is the biggest English-language book publisher in the second-biggest English-language book market? Who among our divisions sold 3.75 million Peppa Pig book sets last year? Read on to find out.


PRH Speakers Bureau and Penguin Live: Powerful Platforms to Extend the Reach of Our Authors Beyond Their Books

What is the next best thing to reading an amazing book?  Meeting the author! Organizing speaking events and creating magical moments that inspire and educate is at the heart of what the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau and the Penguin Live programs do. Both connect authors with readers in interactive and dynamic ways designed to broaden our horizons and to deepen the impact of our books.


Introducing New Penguin Random House Imprints from Around the World

Over the last year our publishing groups worldwide announced or launched exciting new imprints. The imprints’ goals and mission range from giving more diverse voices a platform and publishing home to providing tailored content for digital devices and offering ancillary products that leverage the power and impact of our greatest authors. Here is a roundup of some of our new imprints:


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How Three Recently Acquired Businesses Made Us a Bigger Spanish-Language Powerhouse, More Health-Conscious, and More Stylish

Expanding the reach of our authors to their readers, building our business, and growing our market share are important objectives for Penguin Random House in all our markets. These objectives are achieved in many ways, among them through three singular, compelling business acquisitions over the past year: Ediciones B, Rodale Books, and Out of Print.


Beyond the Book: Captivating Existing Audiences and Capturing New Readers at Penguin Random House UK

Penguin Random House UK pushes the boundaries beyond the book and uses technology to give audiences a personalized experience with campaigns like Ask Penguin and the Pride Book Club.


Penguin Random House U.S. Extends the Wonder Brand with Major Licensing Campaign

The international success of R.J. Palacio’s #1 bestselling book WONDER continues to expand in new and creative ways. The story of Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, has been read by more than 6 million people worldwide since it was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2012. The book has launched an inspiring movement to Choose Kind (#choosekind), the ever-important idea that choosing kindness inspires a chain reaction of good will toward others. Random House Children’s Books has implemented a unique cross-company licensing program partnering with Crown imprint Clarkson Potter and Out of Print Clothing along with outside companies that manufacture consumer products.


Penguin Random House Canada Partners with Toronto International Film Festival to Reach New Audiences

In 2010, Random House of Canada and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) formed a partnership to produce an event series that would bring together book and film lovers, called Books on Film. The idea was conceived to give audiences an opportunity to examine great cinema that began as outstanding literature, with a behind-the-scenes look at some of their favorite book-to-film adaptations. Each spring, the Books on Film series includes six events, all of which feature the presentation of a film along with a special onstage interview with authors, filmmakers, and industry experts, and each event is hosted by CBC Radio personality Eleanor Wachtel.


Bringing a New “Convention” Model to the Brazilian Young Adult Readership

Like many countries around the world, Brazil has seen a surge in young adult literature. Young readers flock to every book festival, treat their favorite authors like rock stars, and form huge communities online. It seemed like a missed opportunity that there wasn’t a festival focused on them in our country. Organizers that invited YA authors didn’t really know what to do with crowds that were willing to sleep overnight to secure a place in line to get an autograph.


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Penguin Random House India Invites Audiences to Celebrate Its 30th Anniversary

Penguin Random House India turns 30 this year. As an ongoing anniversary-year celebration, the company is engaging readers in creative new ways, from sharing backlist classics to producing a phenomenally popular crowd-sourced Twitter campaign.


No author? No Problem for Penguin Random House South Africa’s Promotion of Jamie Oliver’s New Book

How do you successfully publicize a cookbook whose author is unavailable in person? This was the challenge Penguin Random House South Africa faced this September in launching the internationally beloved Jamie Oliver’s new work, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food. Their solution: have Jamie appear virtually, while prominent members of his international culinary team came together onsite.


Penguin Random House Australia Engages Readers with Street Press–Style Magazine

Penguin Random House Australia is known for quality publishing when it comes to adult and young readers’ books, but its marketing team’s idea to engage with readers has opened the door to an entirely different kind of publishing. Their quarterly street-press-style magazine, Underline, not only showcases their talented published authors, but supports one of the publisher’s pillars for growth: discovering new audiences and readers.


How DK Built an Award-Winning Bestseller Campaign for an Unknown Author

How did DK turn a book of science experiments from an unknown author into a winner of The Bookseller’s Marketing & Publicity Competition? By devising fresh and creative ways to reach potential readers. DK knew from the start that How to be a Scientist by Steve Mould could be a reader favorite, notwithstanding Mould’s lack of renown. The book DK published was designed for children ages 7 to 9 to discover the skills it takes to become a scientist. To sell it, the DK Marketing and PR team devised a one-of-a-kind strategic campaign that would engage children and parents alike.


Penguin Random House UK Seeks Out Underrepresented New Voices

At Penguin Random House UK, we are determined to publish a wider range of voices and books to more fully reflect the diverse society we live in. That’s why we have set ourselves a new company-wide goal to ensure our new hires and the books we acquire reflect UK society by 2025, in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality. We want to see a positive shift towards this goal every year through to 2025.


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Penguin Random House Australia Donates AU$ 100,000 to Indigenous Literacy Foundation

books 3 finalWe don’t need research to tell us that giving makes us happy. The happier we are, the more energy we have, the better we think, and the more friendships we develop. Giving not only feels good, but it strengthens the heart, lowers stress, and can literally add years to your life. At Penguin Random House Australia, we are incredibly proud of our Community & Social Responsibility (CSR) program and the ways in which, through our efforts, we give back to local communities in need.


#ProjectReadathon Million Minutes Campaign Donates 300,000 Books

1million minPenguin Random House in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico joined together this April for the inaugural #ProjectReadathon Million Minutes campaign. From April 17 through April 23, the week leading up to World Book Day, the one-week giving and reading campaign offered readers the opportunity to help children in local communities throughout North America – simply by reading.


Penguin Random House Canada Raises Funds for Cancer Research

can1 finalIn 2006, Random House of Canada was approached by a special group of women who had been members of a book club in Toronto for a number of years. Many of their families had been touched by cancer, and given the important role reading had in their lives and the support they had received from their book club members during cancer treatment, they saw an opportunity to harness the energy of enthusiastic book clubs and readers to raise funds for cancer research.


Grupo Editorial Mexico Collaborates With Hospital to Improve Mental Health Through Reading

Highly cognizant of the important social and cultural responsibility of its mission as publishers, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial México has implemented a social responsibility initiative to support reading for a traditionally overlooked group: children and young adults with mental-health issues. The initiative is closely linked to our corporate philosophy—generating economic, social, and environmental value for our stakeholders—as we materialize the impact that our organizational decisions and activities have on society, especially through the continued promotion of reading, in particular to those at risk of social exclusion.


Grupo Editorial Spain Launches Education Program “Poténciate”

In October 2016, Penguin Random House Group Spain launched “Poténciate,” a program for employees who work at the Pallejà Logistics Center. Poténciate encourages employees to resume their education, helping to diminish the barriers that can arise from poor economic or administrative support. The program provides both administrative and economic support to the employees upon request.


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Our Collaboration With WWF Promotes Responsible Forest Management

dk treesThe World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Global Forest & Trade Network has been working with companies for over 20 years, with the mission to encourage businesses to source forest products from well-managed sources.


Penguin Random House India Partners with Save the Children

An integral part of Bertelsmann’s vision is to make a valuable and lasting contribution to society. A key part of this goal are the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that Penguin Random House undertakes in each territory where it operates and through every company that comes under the Bertelsmann umbrella.  In addition to our global commitments, Penguin Random House India have partnered with Save the Children India – an organization committed towards ensuring the ‘Rights of Children’.


Penguin Random House South Africa Celebrates International Nelson Mandela Day

sa1 finalIn honor of this year’s forthcoming International Nelson Mandela Day, held each July 18 on Mr. Mandela’s birthday, the Penguin Random House Social Committee hosted an office Mandela Day Raffle competition to raise funds for charity. Our respective offices in Capetown and Johannesburg each selected organizations to benefit from our successful fundraising.