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.


Getting Personal

Through our Penguin Books UK channels, we are engaging with readers in a completely new way by focusing on personalization. Ask Penguin, our biweekly personal book recommendations, allows us to have direct conversations with our readers on Facebook and Twitter. Using #AskPenguin, our followers receive completely bespoke recommendations based on their mood, a theme they’re interested in, or other books they have enjoyed. [caption id="attachment_8413" align="alignright" width="295"] William Sieghart, founder of National Poetry Day and author of The Poetry Pharmacy, recommends poems to Twitter users based on their mood[/caption] For example, to mark National Poetry Day in September, William Sieghart, founder of the annual celebration of poetry and author of The Poetry Pharmacy, recommended poems to suit the mood of requesters, which ranged from tiredness to triumph. We are also experimenting with Twitter threads, creating themed reading lists and stories. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2017, for example, we used this feature to showcase a number of inspirational women who appear in our bestselling title The Female Lead - Women Who Shape Our World by Edwina Dunn, with original photography by Brigitte Lacombe.  [caption id="attachment_8410" align="alignnone" width="600"] Caption: Our colleagues behind Ask Penguin, Savannah McGowan, Claire Davis, Zainab Juma and Indira Birnie, are brought to life for social media users[/caption]

Penguin Platform

Our young adult community aimed at 16 to 19 year olds, Penguin Platform, is growing rapidly, as we drive discussion on issues this audience cares about through our online book clubs and targeted content. We recently ran a Pride Book Club, collaborating with well-known YouTubers and influencers, to encourage this digitally engaged audience to join a virtual book club and have conversations with us and our network of book bloggers. The online book club proved so popular with our young adult community that we launched a Black History Month edition in October featuring Yrsa Daley-Ward, Zadie Smith, Kayo Chingonyi, George the Poet, and many more inspirational authors. [caption id="attachment_8416" align="alignnone" width="600"] Pride Book Club packages were sent to influencers who have a total following of 1.4m[/caption] As a result of having direct conversations with our young adult community and using in-depth insights on the causes and issues this audience cares about, we are able to deliver a tailored, relevant offering to our Penguin Platform audience.
By going beyond the book and using technology to directly engage with our audiences, we’re able to captivate both loyal readers and new audiences alike.
   Our Black History Month Book Club features important backlist classics and new releases, including  authors Nicola Yoon, Sam Selvon and George the Poet.
  To stay up-to-date on UK news, visit:

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.

“We’ve successfully extended the Wonder brand into new product categories including apparel, accessories, stationery and classroom materials,” said Rachel Bader, director of licensing for Random House Children’s Books. “These products help grow Wonder’s equity beyond books—by introducing the brand to new audiences and reaching existing fans through new retail channels.” A new stationery line developed by Clarkson Potter supports a cross-divisional collaboration within Penguin Random House and offers our sales team fresh opportunities to approach retail with an array of new Wonder-branded merchandise. Potter’s line includes a set of four Wonder notebooks (Draw, Dream, Doodle and Write), a Choose Kind Journal: Do One Wonderful Thing Every Day, and a Wonder Note Cube. Next summer, the publisher will be launching a Wonder School Planner just in time for back-to-school.     More high profile brand exposure is tied to the eagerly awaited film adaption of WONDER starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. The film was produced by Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman and debuts in theaters on November 17, 2017. Lionsgate has also been an enthusiastic partner supporting a number of #ChooseKind activities as well as becoming part of the curriculum in many schools across the country in advance of the film’s premiere. On September 26, 2017, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers published the special movie tie-in edition of WONDER which shares fun anecdotes from the cast and crew and features an eight-page full-color insert with photos from the film. The book also has a foreword by the director Stephen Chbosky, an afterword by R.J. Palacio and a family discussion guide. In addition, Hot Topic, a retail outlet that specializes in pop culture-inspired fashion, is selling WONDER t-shirts in-store and online in the run-up to the expected blockbuster box office opening of the movie nationwide.   To stay up-to-date on US publishing news, visit:

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.

Seven years later, Penguin Random House Canada remains TIFF’s dedicated programming partner for this series, and Books on Film has become TIFF’s most popular program for their subscribers. Films that have been featured in the series include Moneyball, Midnight’s Children, and Atonement, and participants have included authors Kazuo Ishiguro (this year’s Nobel Laureate and pictured in the above photograph), Yann Martel, Zadie Smith, and Colm Tóibín along with director and screenwriter Deepa Mehta and actress, writer, and director Sarah Polley, to name just a few. The Books on Film series provides Penguin Random House Canada with the opportunity to showcase our books to TIFF’s large audience, through the events themselves, at which we have the opportunity for promotion of related titles as well as the film tie-in title being featured, and through advertising and outreach about the series to TIFF’s extensive database. This partnership has also led to opportunities to work with TIFF on other author events, such as a special event featuring author Lilly Singh earlier this year. [caption id="attachment_8255" align="alignleft" width="300"] Yann Martel with host Eleanor Wachtel[/caption] To develop the lineup of events each year, the Penguin Random House Canada marketing team puts forward ideas based on our extensive backlist of movie tie-in titles, and we discuss these ideas with the organizers at TIFF and with the host of the series, Eleanor Wachtel. Wachtel is the longtime host of CBC Radio’s flagship national literary program Writers & Company, in which she interviews writers from all around the world. She plays a key role in curating the list of films to be included in the series, and the pairing of the films with great interviewees for the events. This has been a very successful partnership for Penguin Random House Canada, and we are pleased to see it continue. Planning is now under way for the 2018 Books on Film series. To stay up-to-date on our Canadian publishing news, visit

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.

[caption id="attachment_8353" align="alignright" width="400"] Benjamin Alire Sáenz at a book signing[/caption] Instead of waiting for someone else to solve this issue, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We observed local festivals and researched conventions abroad, such as LeakyCon, YALLFest and Yalc. In 2017, we finally felt ready to announce FLIPOP (Pop Literature Festival), a two-day event with international writers (Alwyn Hamilton and Benjamin Alire Sáenz) and fourteen Brazilian authors. The event, which took place in July, consisted of eight panels focused on such topics as global community building, diversity in literature, favorite (and least favorite) clichés, tips for new writers, and the power of digital influencers. One visitor won a whole year of Seguinte’s releases and everyone took home Eco bags, bookmarks, and buttons. The festival ended with the Selection Ball, a dance party for all attendees. Click here to watch a video about the event. When we announced the FLIPOP, we thought our main challenge would be getting people to understand this new format, which was closer to a convention than the book fairs with which readers are accustomed. However, as soon as we announced FLIPOP, there was an immediate reaction among readers along the lines of “Why has there never been something like this before?” Tickets gave access to both days, and all 350 of them sold out in two weeks. Marketing was done solely through our social media channels, and 26 percent of attendees came from other cities, just for the festival, and 12 percent even flew in from other states. During FLIPOP, we received a lot of feedback from people, who thanked us for providing a place where they felt a true sense of belonging. Both authors and readers said they enjoyed the deeper conversations that the panels provided. “What I loved about this festival is that we could all enjoy it together. Authors and readers—there’s a bit of this in every one of us—were able to connect through this passion we share. I am waiting for next year’s FLIPOP. If it was up to me, we could have one every weekend!” said Iris Figueiredo, author of Céu Sem Estrelas. Since the event, we have been frequently asked, “When is there going to be another FLIPOP?” Other publishing houses have already contacted us asking to be a part of it. Now that we’ve set the example and showed that it can be successful, we’re already full of ideas to make FLIPOP 2018 a bigger and even better event for our young readers. To stay up-to-date on publishing news from Seguinte, visit: 

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.

To kick off its anniversary celebration, the company created and published Penguin 30, which contains excerpts from thirty of its most celebrated bestsellers published during the past three decades. Among them: Nehru’s autobiography and such novels as Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate, Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth. The volume received considerable attention nationally when PRH India collaborated with The Book Fairies, a worldwide initiative whose goal is sharing books with others by hiding them in public places. Several book fairies went on a special journey with a mission to hide thirty copies of the Penguin 30 special anniversary edition throughout Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Participating local book lovers then went on a quest to find the volumes, using clues from the magical “The Book Fairies” portal on Instagram. The most adept book seekers posted photos of themselves and their finds. (View a selection: @penguinindia.) Similarly, and in keeping with its anniversary motto #KeepReading, PRH India partnered with BODM (Books on the Delhi Metro), and provided special anniversary editions that were placed at various metro stations at the Delhi Metro line for one week in August. Part of the great eye-catching appeal of the campaign was that the lovely anniversary special editions were color-coordinated with the metro lines: blue covers on the blue line; yellow covers on the yellow line; red on the red line; and so forth. What made the promotion extra-worthwhile is that Books on the Delhi Metro is a nonprofit initiative aimed at promoting reading while commuting. Reading initiatives by BODM have taken social media by storm recently as reading enthusiasts drop off books for people to pick up, read, and then return for others to enjoy reading, as they have. BODM shared updates on Facebook and Instagram regularly, as did PRH India’s own social media pages. “We received extensive media coverage, word of mouth, and great satisfaction for our part in commuter book discovery, for this campaign,” said Hemali Sodhi, SVP, Marketing, and Publisher, Children’s, Penguin Random House India. Launching a #KeepTweeting contest was an entirely different way of inviting audiences to join in the celebration. Twitter users were given the first line of a story and invited to keep adding the next lines until the story was complete. The idea was to create the first-ever short story with thirty lines to commemorate the 30th anniversary in India. Who knew turning thirty could be such fun and attract so many new readers to Penguin Random House India’s great books?   To stay up-to-date on publishing news from India, visit:
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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.

To launch the book with a big splash, the publisher took over Jamie Oliver’s celebrated Italian restaurant Melrose Arch in the Marble Arch section of Johannesburg. Media from Cape Town joined their Johannesburg counterparts there. Sponsors were secured to help underwrite the event financially, and their involvement ensured that the hosts could turn this event into a top-class evening that guests would talk about for months to come. Oliver “attended” via a specially filmed video clip welcoming the guests. On hand to introduce each of the several canapés prepared for the guests was Jamie Oliver’s International Group’s head chef, Shane Smit, who spoke passionately about his own experiences preparing the new recipes from the book and his delight in being part of this food global phenomenon. Chef Shane is himself a renowned celebrity chef who has worked in several international five-star establishments, including Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Oxford, UK. Press and social media coverage of the evening was extensive, and, thanks in part to this memorably creative evening, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food has become one of South Africa’s top-selling nonfiction titles this fall. As an additional ongoing promotional benefit from the event, for a limited time, Jamie’s Italian restaurant customers in Johannesburg will be able to try 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food dishes straight from Jamie’s new cookbook, which is an excellent opportunity to generate additional awareness for the new book.   To stay up-to-date on our South Africa publishing news, visit:

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.

Launched late in 2016, Underline is the first of its kind and is created entirely in-house by the PRH Australia marketing team. Designed to be dog-eared and devoured at leisure, each issue of Underline is a chance for readers to delve a little further into some of the world’s finest literature—and into the minds behind it. In less than a year, Underline has gained much acclaim from authors, customers, and readers alike. Readily available at bookstores, cafés, theatres, bars, and boutiques throughout Australia, Underline is now nearing publication of its fifth issue and its first birthday edition, which will be published this November. Due to overwhelming positive feedback and ongoing demand from booksellers and readers, its circulation has risen with each issue since launch and now stands at 50,000 copies nationwide. Four to six weeks after the print issue hits the streets, an online edition is available to read through Issuu, an online magazine platform, with both formats promoted through PRH Australia’s online channels. Underline brings together extracts, interviews, articles, short stories, recipes, reflections, and much more to celebrate brilliant writing in its many forms. Tim Winton, John Safran, Ali Smith, and Jamila Rizvi have been presented on covers. The November-issue cover story features Man Booker Prize–winning Richard Flanagan in a four-page profile and an extract from his new novel, First Person. Previous Underline content has included recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi; extracts from Howard Jacobson, Tracey Chevalier, and Robert Dessaix; posters for the Vintage Woolf series, Black Classics, and Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami; book reviews from Fiona McFarlane, Candice Fox, and Chris Kraus; and themed collections such as Strange Perspectives, Modern Australian Classics, and Shakespeare Revisited. Each issue ends on a page called End Notes, where five newly released Penguin Random House books are highlighted as must-reads. Previously featured are works by Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Emma Cline, and Mohsin Hamid. “Underline has been incredibly well received thus far. The pride the team takes in its creation and reception has been instrumental to its success, and we’re all very excited to explore more and more innovative ways to bring our fabulous literary list to readers and the Underline brand to life,” said Jake Davies, group head of Marketing, Penguin Random House Australia. Click here to read previous issues.   To stay up-to-date on Australian news, visit:  

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.

[caption id="attachment_8198" align="alignright" width="300"] Chris Evans Breakfast Show[/caption] To best showcase how the author makes science fun and exciting for children, the publisher took the bold step of promoting a highly visual book on the radio. They succeeded in securing an interview on BBC national radio’s highly popular The Chris Evans Breakfast Show to present such experiments from the book as making a paper airplane, cleaning coins, and building a sundial. He succeeded in engaging listeners by compellingly verbalizing what heretofore had been perceived as something to be best experienced visually. DK presented the book in carefully selected interactive forums. They lined up a series of author events at venues sure to attract an audience full of curious children. Mould’s interactive optical illusions captivated 1,700 pupils and their teachers at a school event during Britain’s Hay Festival. The Cheltenham Science Festival, which followed, introduced the book to even more budding young scientists and their parents. Experiments conducted from the book at DK’s booth during the Institute of Imagination Mini Maker Faire had children and parents joining in and, later, sharing online. It was all a great success for DK, as its Marketing and PR team members met many families who were encountering not only How to be a Scientist, but also DK books for the first time. DK was also the only publisher at this event, underscoring the division’s innovative approach to this campaign. How to be a Scientist also benefited from glowing reviews across key parenting press, and from bloggers who reached parents both on and offline. Praise for the book was channeled on a variety of platforms. How It Works magazine commented that “How to be a Scientist brings scientific theories and practical experiments together in a way that keeps you turning through the pages to see what's next”. In The Guardian, Victoria Rossiter from Rossiter Books praised the book as a “fantastically practical and accessible introduction to science for 7–9 year olds.” DK capitalized on Mould’s professional connections: Social media posts from science influencers Sally Le Page and Simon Singh spread word about the book among their large audiences. DK calculates that its marketing and publicity campaign for How to be a Scientist reached more than 10 million people nationwide, and the campaign’s impact continues, making it a deserving winner of The Bookseller’s Marketing & Publicity Competition. To stay up-to-date on DK news, visit: