Company & CEO News

Remembering Peter Mayer

Peter Mayer, former Chairman and CEO of Penguin Group and founder of The Overlook Press, died in Manhattan on Friday, May 11. He was 82. During Mayer’s 1978 – 1997 tenure, Penguin became a global player in trade publishing. He encouraged his imprints to publish a wide range of literary and commercial adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction titles, many of which he personally acquired. Among the renowned Penguin Group authors whose careers flowered under his leadership are Paul Auster, Saul Bellow, T.C. Boyle, J.M. Coetzee, Don DeLillo, Robertson Davies, Jan Karon, William Kennedy, Stephen King, Terry McMillan, Iris Murdoch, and Salman Rushdie – including the latter’s THE SATANIC VERSES. Mayer’s more than 50-year career in book publishing also included the 1971 creation of The Overlook Press. He presided over that independent entity “to publish books that for one reason or another have been ‘overlooked.’” To read the Peter Mayer obituary in The New York Times, click here.

Mayer’s passing is drawing an outpouring of heartfelt personal tributes and remembrances from publishing industry colleagues, including ones by Penguin Random House Global CEO Markus Dohle, and Viking VP & Executive Editor Paul Slovak: “The merger of Penguin Random House was recent but the long histories of both companies have been created and enriched over time by our legendary writers and leaders, especially Peter Mayer, whom I had the true privilege of getting to know over the past decade. Curious and interested as always, he was one of the first publishing executives who welcomed me to New York and took me under his wings when I arrived in the city in May 2008. He supported and stood by me on my journey at Random House and was incredibly proud when Penguin Random House was formed and I became his quasi successor as its first CEO. During his tenure of 19 years, Peter left an indelible mark on Penguin - as its longest ever serving CEO post Allen Lane - and an unforgettable impression on all of us. He was a global citizen and perhaps the first truly global publishing executive. In addition to many international programs and initiatives, he founded Penguin India in 1985. He was respected and beloved throughout our industry for his genuine belief in the power of good storytelling and for his warmth and sincere affection and appreciation for book people and the role that we play in the world. He will forever be a part of the Penguin Random House family.” -- Markus Dohle “In the early 1990s, when I was the publicity director of Viking, Peter used to come down to my office around 7:00 pm, a quarter in his open palm. 'Paul, Paul,' he’d say, 'Have you got a cigarette?' Well, I sure did. And we’d sit for an hour or two, talking books. Peter was an extraordinary character. Handsome (a grey fox if there ever was one), smart, articulate, passionate, curious, charismatic. An amazing book person -- with incredible instincts for both the literary and the commercial. He was the heart and soul of Penguin. He loved to make deals. He took risks, he defended free speech, he bought and personally edited some of Europe’s most important postwar writers, among many other things. He was also incredibly fun to be around. He had great stories, great wit. He was my great mentor, and I will never forget him.” – Paul Slovak

Library Marketing Hosts Spring 2018 Librarian Open Book Event

The Penguin Random House Library Marketing team recently held their bi-annual Librarian Open Book Event where several Penguin Random House authors spoke to 100 of the Tri-state area’s top librarians. The team also buzzed about over 40 upcoming titles and presented Maker Space ideas and concepts for libraries.

The event kicked off with opening remarks from Jennifer Childs, VP Library Marketing, and a special guest appearance from our newly appointed Penguin Random House US CEO, Madeline McIntosh.

Librarians then heard from authors Judy Blundell (THE HIGH SEASON), Lea Carpenter (RED, WHITE, BLUE), Kristan Higgins (GOOD LUCK WITH THAT), Eric Klinenberg (PALACES FOR THE PEOPLE), Idra Novey (THOSE WHO KNEW), and Heather Won Tesoriero (THE CLASS). Afterwards, authors mingled with the librarians and signed galleys. Kelly Coyle-Crivelli and Maureen Meekins from the Library Marketing team then stepped in to announce two of our big crafting titles for this Spring, CUTTING MACHINE CRAFTS WITH YOUR CRICUT, SIZZIX, OR SILHOUETTE by Lia Griffith and HOW TO WINDOW BOX by Chantal Aida and Ryan Benoit. They even showed off a few of the crafts they made with the Cricut and their impressive window boxes! The book buzz that followed was presented by members of the Library Marketing team—Jennifer Childs, Kelly Coyle-Crivelli, Erica Melnichok, and Miriam Tuliao. The team buzzed for an hour and highlighted some of our upcoming Spring, Summer, and Fall 2018 titles that included THERE THERE by Tommy Orange (Knopf), VOX by Christina Dalcher (Berkley), AN ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE THING by Hank Green (Dutton), BELIEVE ME by JP Delaney (Ballantine Books), TICKER by Mimi Swartz (Crown), and BABY’S FIRST FELONY by John Straley (Soho Crime). Open Book finished off with a wine tasting featuring guest author, Miriam Parker (THE SHORTEST WAY HOME), where she spoke to librarians and shared a taste of California wine country to pair with her upcoming novel. We’re looking forward to the next Librarian Open Book Event—coming Fall 2018!

Bertelsmann Reduces Carbon Footprint in 2016

As part of our Igloo Climate Change series, we are presenting highlights from Bertelsmann’s recently released Carbon Footprint 2016 Report that provides information on the development of relevant environmental indicators and climate emissions across our majority shareholder and its divisions. 

In 2016, the Bertelsmann Carbon Footprint was Reduced by One Percent This reduction corresponds to a decline of 5,300 tons, compared to the previous year. Bertelsmann’s total footprint represents approximately 572,300 tons of CO2 equivalents (CO2eq). –. CO2eq is a measure of the emission of different greenhouse gases, weighted according to their impact on the climate. About half of the emissions are produced directly at Bertelsmann companies worldwide through the generation of heat and electricity and through the fuel consumed by company cars. The other half of the emissions are produced indirectly by utility companies or landlords, for the generation of electricity and district heating.  Apart from the Bertelsmann Printing Group, the biggest contributor to other indirect emissions are Penguin Random House’s publishing businesses (20%) and Gruner + Jahr (12%). 12% Increase in Share of Paper from Sustainable Sources At Bertelsmann’s printing and publishing businesses, paper will remain the most important natural resource for the foreseeable future.  As part of an ongoing effort to protect the environment and climate, it is all the more important than ever that paper used comes from sustainable forestry or recycling.  In 2016, the proportion of paper Bertelsmann companies purchased from sustainable sources rose significantly from 74 percent to 86 percent. Meanwhile, overall paper consumption was down slightly year-on-year by 10,000 tons (roughly one percent), to 1.85 million tons. Bertelsmann’s annual paper consumption corresponds to a column of trucks loaded with rolls of paper that stretches more than 470 miles – roughly the distance from Hamburg to Munich. To complement its Paper Policy, Bertelsmann strives to increase the share of recycled paper and paper from certified sustainable forestry to more than 90 percent by 2020.  Among Penguin Random House’s 2020 Social Responsibility Commitments, our company will source 100 percent of the paper we use worldwide from a certified forest-management standard such as FSC, SFI, and/or PEFC. “Be Green” Efforts Continue to Have Positive Impact on Resource Conservation and Waste Prevention A total of 380 Bertelsmann companies at nearly 400 locations across all divisions around the world participated in the company’s annual collection of environmental data. Numerous committed colleagues volunteered to support the recording of key figures on energy and paper consumption, water and waste. The worldwide environmental data collection is coordinated by “be green” experts at the divisions.  At the Group level, the environmental data from the companies and sites are combined and the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions is determined. The results of the Carbon Footprint report not only create transparency about impacts on the environment and climate, as well as on Bertelsmann’s environmental performance, but also enables the management to derive measures for improvement. The sharing of knowledge and experiences in the Bertelsmann “be green” network, and cooperation in energy efficiency projects, continue to help reduce energy consumption and emissions, costs, and effort. Even in an increasingly digital media landscape, printed books, magazines, brochures and leaflets will continue to have their place, which is why, going forward, resource conservation and waste prevention will continue to play a major role at Bertelsmann across the paper value chain. To safeguard forests, which are valuable for climate protection and biodiversity, Bertelsmann advocates responsible paper procurement.  In their role as print service providers and paper buyers, Bertelsmann companies offer their customers an extensive range of sustainably certified and carbonneutral print products. To read the complete Bertelsmann Carbon Footprint 2016 Report, click here.

Watch Video: Markus Dohle and RHCB’s Barbara Marcus Featured in “Spread Kindness, #ShareTheLaughter” Campaign

The world needs a little more kindness these days, and in 2017 Elmo has resolved to spread as much as he can all year long with “Spread Kindness, #ShareTheLaughter,” a global multimedia campaign initiated by Sesame Workshop.  Elmo launched his challenge by telling a joke on the TODAY Show, and our very own CEO Markus Dohle and Barbara Marcus, President and Publisher of Random House Children’s Books, followed with their own video.  Watch it below:

expand The #ShareTheLaughter challenge invites social media users to share a video of themselves telling their best joke to their social pages, and challenge a few of their friends to tell a joke and continue the challenge. We encourage you to accept Elmo, Markus and Barbara’s challenge and share a joke using the hashtag #ShareTheLaughter, which has already garnered over 24 million impressions since the campaign was announced on August 16, National Tell-a-Joke Day. Penguin Random House Digital Video produced the Markus, Barbara and Elmo video.  Our digital video team also produces Brightly Storytime, the monthly picture book read-along video series, in which Ms. Linda reads some of Brightly’s favorite books.  In the newest episode, released this week, Elmo came in to co-host and help Ms. Linda warm up with a few tongue twisters before she read ELMO’S TRICKY TONGUE TWISTERS (Random House Children’s Books).  Watch the new Brightly Storytime video:

Readerlink Awards Penguin Random House Childrens Publisher of the Year

Our highly respected distribution customer partner, Readerlink, the largest full-service book distributor in North America, held their annual National Awards Dinner on August 30, and Penguin Random House was honored as Readerlink Children’s Publisher of the Year.

We also were Finalists for the Premiere Publisher Partner Award, and our colleagues Erin Reilly and Jessica Wells were nominees for Sales Partner of the Year. Finalist nominations in the seven Publisher Award categories  were determined by such criteria as overall sales evaluation; operations performance; and retailer-promotion support and collaboration. Readerlink supplies our Adult and Children’s fronlist and backlist hardcover, trade, and paperbacks to leading non-trade channel mass merchants, warehouse clubs, department stores, and drug stores, among them Target, Walmart, Costco, and Toys R Us. We join Readerlink in congratulating our colleagues companywide—in particular our Mass Merchandise Sales, Random House Children’s and Penguin Young Readers Groups, and Erin and Jessica—for their commitment and excellence in achievement.  
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Crown is N.A. Publisher of Two New Obama Books

Crown-Obama-logoMaya Mavjee, President and Publisher of Penguin Random House’s Crown Publishing Group, today announced that Crown will publish in the U.S. and Canada two separate books to be written by former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, respectively. Penguin Random House, of which

Crown is a part, acquired world publication rights to both books last week from the authors’ representatives, Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Details about the books, including their respective titles and publication dates, will be announced in the future. Crown previously published President Obama’s multimillion-copy bestsellers Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, as well as Mrs. Obama’s 2012 illustrated book about the White House kitchen garden, American Grown, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller. Obama booksRachel Klayman, Vice President, Executive Editor, will edit President Obama’s book for Crown. In 2004, Ms. Klayman spearheaded the paperback reissue of President Obama’s first book, Dreams from My Father, and served as his editor for The Audacity of Hope (2006). The two books have sold nearly 7 million copies to date in the U.S., and were also worldwide bestsellers. Molly Stern, Senior Vice President and Publisher of the Crown, Hogarth, Crown Archetype, Broadway Books, and Three Rivers Press imprints, will edit Mrs. Obama’s book. The publication strategy for both books will be led by Crown senior executives David Drake and Tina Constable, who have previously partnered on numerous other noteworthy publications for the Group and who have worked on the previous books by the authors. Said Ms. Mavjee, “Crown is honored to continue its publishing relationship with President Obama and Mrs. Obama, both of whom are transformative figures in today’s world. They will write deeply inspiring and illuminating books that draw upon their rich personal experience and dedicated public service. Each publication will be a historic event.” In support of the mission of The Obama Foundation and Penguin Random House’s own commitment to social responsibility, the company will donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a longstanding Penguin Random House nonprofit partner and the Washington, DC–based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative, Open eBooks. First Book is dedicated to promoting equal access to education by providing new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need in the United States and Canada. Consistent with their past practice, the Obamas also plan to donate a significant portion of their author proceeds to charity, including the Obama Foundation.