Penguin Random House India

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.

  At Penguin Random House India and Penguin Random House North Asia, we see our growth potential as vital and vibrant. Penguin Random House India, who last year celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, and Penguin Random House North Asia, our home in the Chinese market, are keenly attuned to their local reading cultures. Both divisions are heavily influenced by the fast-growing English-language book-reading local population.  Editions of U.S. and UK bestsellers and prize winners are avidly sought after and widely discussed in person and online. Commercially, both publishing groups are benefitting from the home-grown boom in e-commerce. Online book buying is prevalent in rural areas in India, where there are few bookstores. In China, there are rising book sales online and with mobile devices, as consumer visits to local bookstores are not very habitual. [caption id="attachment_9979" align="alignright" width="173"] Gaurav Shrinagesh[/caption] Too, both companies are led by dynamic CEOs: Gaurav Shrinagesh is the longtime head of PRH India. Azia Cheng was appointed to lead PRH North Asia last year. Together with their deeply committed staff, they share a passion to maximize the ever-increasing local opportunities to reach larger and new audiences for their authors’ books. As Markus Dohle reported in a companywide blog post upon his return from attending India’s Jaipur Literature Festival in January, “The development of PRH India in the past five years is a great success story.” India is the world’s second-largest English-language market, with some 130 million people fluent in the language. We are the largest English-language trade publisher In India. “Whether we publish in English, Hindi, or other local languages thanks to new publishing opportunities, what matters most is the importance of books in the Indian culture,” he wrote. [caption id="attachment_9980" align="alignright" width="173"] Azia Cheng[/caption] That books matter in India is evident in the solid growth rate for PRH India: overall revenues have increased 23% over the past two years, with the company’s market share at 31%, and its English-language sales growth up 80%, 2005-2017. Its strong local literary program  publishes over 250 titles in English every year. Dohle believes that “India is an exciting market, and with the young demographic and vibrant economy, we are poised for continued growth over the next years and decades.” China, of course, also is one of the world’s largest book markets, whose readers are drawn to many different kinds of books. “The Chinese tend to be brand conscious and heavily influenced by their social environments,” Azia Cheng told BENET at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. “In terms of international content for adult audiences, readers are fans of books written by European and U.S. authors, and are attracted to classics by Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and Jane Austen, among many others. Movie tie-ins and Nobel and other prize winners’ works are also popular. “Our consumers appreciate quality content,” Cheng says, and “we tailor our marketing to meet consumer preferences.” They also appreciate children’s books. The beloved Peppa Pig is PRH North Asia’s greatest success. In 2017, they sold 3.75 million Peppa book sets through physical and online retail. The division expects to take great future advantage of the parent company’s worldwide strength in children’s publishing to engage in collaborative projects, such as their recent large acquisition of the rights to several dozen Random House Children’s Books U.S. titles. In China, as well as in India, DK Publishing has achieved a significant increase year on year revenue. It expects further growth this year and next from its Knowledge series and from its Children’s titles in translation and English-language export editions. According to Cheng, an important emerging publishing trend in China is the monetization of creative content through different business models. “As one of the largest providers of content and intellectual property,” she observes, “there are numerous ways for Penguin Random House to experiment and to try new approaches to connect our authors with readers. We always are looking to explore new opportunities for the future.”

Penguin Random House India Launches a New Digital Imprint, Penguin Petit

Penguin Random House India is delighted to announce an exciting digital initiative, the launch of its digital imprint Penguin Petit.  Featuring a carefully curated selection from Penguin Random House India’s extensive list of titles, Penguin Petits are short reads, approximately 50 pages each, designed for ease of reading across digital devices.  Readers will now be able to enjoy the writings by some of their favourite authors in short, low priced and highly accessible digital formats, including works by Premchand, Gulzar, Devdutt Pattanaik, Ramachandra Guha, Sudha Murty and Anita Nair to begin with.

[caption id="attachment_9650" align="alignright" width="122"] Devdutt Pattanaik[/caption] [caption id="attachment_9651" align="alignright" width="123"] Singh Khushwant[/caption] Penguin Petits will provide great, quality content to suit a broad range of interests, from fiction, nonfiction, children's literature, mythology to self-help, history and current affairs, and will be available in an e-book format.   [caption id="attachment_9652" align="alignleft" width="252"] Rukun Kaul[/caption]   Rukun Kaul, Associate Vice President, Digital and Business Initiatives, Penguin Random House India, said ‘With Penguin Petit, Penguin Random House India makes a foray into the world of accessible short-form reading. It's designed for an increasingly mobile India that might want to be able to read anywhere and at any time. With its easy downloadability, wide range of content and accessible pricing, Penguin Petit should appeal to many readers. Our books and authors will also benefit from the easy discoverability and increased visibility that comes with making great reads available in a shorter and more affordable format.' With the launch of Penguin Petit, Penguin Random House India reaffirms its commitment to spread the joy of reading – to an ever-expanding readership.

Penguin Random House India Publishing Book for Young Readers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Penguin Random House India has announced the publication of EXAM WARRIORS by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.  This inspiring book for young readers is written in a fun and interactive style, with illustrations, activities and yoga exercises, intended to be a friend to youths not only in acing exams but also in facing life.  

Non-preachy, practical and thought-provoking, EXAM WARRIORS is a handy guide for students in India and across the world.  The book seeks to add to the debate and discourse around the importance of stress-free examinations and the need to pursue knowledge over marks. It aims to be a catalyst that will trigger discussions whose ultimate beneficiaries will be the “Exam Warriors.” A series of asanas and breathing exercises are also included for students to overcome stress. Narendra Modi has been Prime Minister since May 2014, after leading his party to the first full parliamentary majority government in India in three decades.  His victory was propelled by historic support from India's youth, particularly first-time voters.  As Prime Minister, Modi has presided over transformative economic and social sector reforms, which have given a strong boost to India's development journey. The education sector has been particularly close to Modi's heart. He is an inspirational leader for the youth. His monthly radio program, Mann Ki Baat, is extremely popular among all sections of society. It was in this program that he addressed Exam Warriors, first in 2015 and then subsequently in 2016 and 2017. Previously, Modi served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014. He has also held key organizational responsibilities in the Bharatiya Janata Party, including that of the General Secretary (Organization). Modi enjoys reading, writing and interacting with people. He is among the most followed leaders on social media, which he uses regularly. He also connects with people across the world through his own app, the Narendra Modi Mobile App.

Penguin Random House India Presents Priyanka Chopra: Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Chasing a Dream

Penguin Random House India’s annual lecture event featured Priyanka Chopra, global entertainment personality, game changer and Unicef ambassador, last month in New Delhi. Launched in 2007, The Penguin Annual Lecture series has become one of the most prestigious cultural events in India. The eleventh edition, held on December 26, was themed “Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Chasing a Dream” and marked the conclusion of Penguin Random House India’s 30th anniversary celebrations.  

One of the leading superstars of the Indian film industry, Ms. Chopra has had a meteoric rise with Bollywood movie roles and on the global stage, propelled by her hit ABC- TV show, Quantico.  Voted “Miss World” 2000, she also won a People’s Choice Award for two consecutive years, was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and one of Harper Bazaar’s women game changers of the modern era. Ms. Chopra is an icon for today’s young Indians who identify with her drive, passion, intelligence and charisma. She has been a social media trendsetter and has a massive fan base across the globe. Much loved and admired as an artist and also recognized as a global Indian — a woman who has broken the glass ceiling to reach the highest echelons of international stardom — and for her philanthropic work. The Penguin Annual Lecture, hosted by Penguin Random House India, started a decade ago as an initiative to bring leading writers, artists, thinkers and key personalities from India and across the world in direct contact with audiences and admirers in India. The first such event to be organized by a publishing house in India, the event is immensely popular with readers, book lovers, and the youth market, in particular. Penguin Random House India aims to spread the thrill of fresh ideas to a new generation of readers, thinkers and future achievers through this series.  Past speakers have included thought leaders like His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Professor Amartya Sen, Thomas Friedman, Amitabh Bachchan, Ramachandra Guha, and beloved authors from both India and abroad, including Dan Brown, Jeff Kinney and Ruskin Bond.

Penguin Random House India Earns “Publisher of the Year” Award

Penguin Random House India has been honored at the 8th annual Tata Literature Live Festival in Mumbai with the Publisher of the Year award, which recognizes the efforts of India’s publishers to discover and nurture writers.

  Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO, Penguin Random House India, thanked the organizers of the festival and said that the publishing group will continue to reflect as wide a range of opinions and voices as possible. Mr. Shrinagesh added, “I would like to especially thank the fabulous team at Penguin Random House India – a group of talented individuals across all functions who come together with utmost passion and dedication, and an abiding commitment to connect authors with readers.” The Tata Literature Live Festival is the biggest literary event in Mumbai, and one of the most important international book events in India. More than 130 authors, journalists, and other participants from 15 countries attended this year's three-day program of workshops, panel discussions, book presentations and award ceremonies.  The Tata Literature Live Awards presented at the event alos include Book of the Year, Best First Book of the Year, Business Book of the Year, and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Pranay Lal’s Indica, a Penguin Random House India title, won the Best First Book Nonfiction award. The range of outstanding books released by a publisher in the current year, and the number of awards for individual titles at the literary festival, are decisive in determining the winner of the Publisher of the Year award.  Anil Dharker, founder and director of the Tata Literature Live Festival, explained why the award was created: “All over the world, prizes are awarded to authors and their books to honor their outstanding literary work. But publishers provide an essential part of the entire process, without which books could not be made available to the public. It's obvious that there would be no books without publishers.”
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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.

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:

Penguin Random House India’s “Book Fairies” Work Their Magic

Do you believe in fairies? How about Book Fairies? Penguin Random House India recently collaborated with The Book Fairies as several of our colleagues  in India went on a special journey to Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

Their mission was to hide 30 copies of the Penguin 30 special edition throughout these cities as part of the ongoing celebration of Penguin Random House India’s 30th anniversary.  Participating book lovers then went on a quest to find the books 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. A similar initiative, “Books on the Delhi Metro” (@booksonthedelhimetro), took place in early August. The Penguin 30 special edition was published at the beginning of this year and features 30 bestsellers by Indian authors written during the past 30 years, among them Nehru’s autobiography as well as such novels as Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate, Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth. “The Book Fairies” is a worldwide initiative with the goal of sharing books with others through finding hiding places for them in public spaces.

Taste What You Read: Penguin Random House India Pairs Books with Chocolate

Penguin Random House India has collaborated with the chocolate brand “All Things” to formulate and pair taste buds with words. Inspired by classics from Indian literature, it is now possible to appease multiple sensory palettes.  You can feel the flow of the narrative and truly taste what you read.  

From the initial sight of the packaging that resembles a book to chocolate melting in your mouth,  this collaboration promises a unique experience. Several Penguin Random House India colleagues served as “taste-testers” looking for perfect book & chocolate combinations. A caramel-toned Belgian milk chocolate with a lemon zest and cream cheese-flavored white chocolate ganache echoes the richness and longing of love found in Kalidasa’s luminous poetry. A bittersweet dark chocolate with botanical undertones paired with an aromatic Earl Grey-infused vodka ganache whets the appetite for the lyrical works of the poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.  A milky Belgian chocolate with baked coconut crumble evokes Raja Rao’s The Cat and Shakespeare, which connects readers with the everyday struggles and ordinary pleasures of living in Trivandrum during the early 1940’s.

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’.

Here are some of the programs we proudly support. india3Promoting Early Childhood Education through Balwadis: Its mission is to provide early childhood care and education for all round development, including physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language development, and to build a habit of attending school among children. We are supporting one Balwadi, reaching out to 30 children (ages 3-5 years) and their parents. We are sponsoring their education aids, mid meals, and infrastructure requirements to run the education center. In addition, we also helped create a library by donating our books meant for early learning. Enabling Women to better their Lives through Functional Literacy: This program aims to provide functional literacy to the women and girls of Sarai Kale Khan Village, who have never been to school, or have dropped out of school. The 4-month curriculum adopts an Activity-based methodology, which equips an adult learner to read, write, and understand Hindi language and basic Arithmetic. The program provides them with a platform through various activities for enhancing self-confidence, communication, and developing a positive outlook. We will support one such program that covers 45 women for a period for 4 months. In addition, we are also looking at providing infrastructural support to their existing center by donating office equipment and furniture.

International Report: Penguin Random House India Wins Social Media Award

penguin india2Our colleagues at Penguin Random House India are celebrating their prize in the Social Samosa Awards for Best Social Media Brands 2016 competition, receiving a Silver Award in the “Media and Entertainment” category.

Rukun Kaul, Digital Lead at Penguin Random House India, says: “We’re delighted with this recognition. This is a testament to our vision to make our social media channels forums where we

engage with readers and followers on ideas that matter to them while keeping them entertained and engaged … Of course, next year we’ll be aiming for the Gold!” Here are examples of Penguin Random House India’s social media innovation:
  • An inventive documentary-style book trailer was created to promote author Amitav Ghosh’s book on climate change, The Great Derangement, his first nonfiction title in ten years. View the trailer here. The social media team also hosted three Twitter panel discussions, with experts joining from all across the world and reaching an unprecedented global audience (14 million for the final panel) and creating an impactful conversation around the topic of climate change.
  • the dinner1A short movie called The Dinner on ‘love outside relationships’ was produced for bestselling romance writer Ravinder Singh’s new book, This Love that Feels Right, which revolved around the idea of adultery. Watch The Dinner via Facebook here.
  • Short time-lapse line-illustration videos were produced to promote a new book by bestselling Mythology author Devdutt Pattanaik, presenting Indian mythology in the most accessible way with striking Indian-style line-drawings. Watch the selected drawings being redrawn here
  The Indian online platform Social Samosa observes, discusses and investigates current trends and developments in social media marketing. With its inaugural awards, announced via Facebook Live, Social Samosa recognized social media excellence in 16 categories.