Ever since the Penguin–Random House merger was announced, Markus Dohle, CEO of the new company, has promised that the integration of the two publishers would be handled carefully and deliberately. With the merger officially consummated on July 1, Dohle has held firm to that strategy; over the last two months, some preliminary steps have been taken to unite the publishers, but the focus has been on promoting and selling the fall and holiday lists, largely as separate companies.
“While much remains the same prior to us formally merging on July 1,” every day Penguin and Random House employees are engaged in activities to move the company forward, said Stuart Applebaum, head of global communications for PRH and one of only a handful of corporate executives who have a new PRH title. For the most part, employees of PRH are using their old titles and are doing their old jobs. Contact information for employees has also remained the same, although PRH created a new companywide intranet, which launched on July 1, that features postings relevant to all employees.
Selling the new lists—the company’s current priority—is being done by existing Penguin and Random House sales forces. Through at least the holidays, each account will be serviced by its existing reps from both houses and orders will be shipped from existing warehouses. Reps are selling from separate catalogues and, according to Applebaum, no date has been set for when the catalogues will be combined. Applebaum noted that initial meetings between Penguin and RH sales teams over the summer, led by PRH COO Madeline McIntosh, focused on current marketplace conditions and how the new company can best meet the needs of its customers.
As for acquiring new titles, the policies of the two companies have remained the same, with one exception: in auctions, Penguin editors can still make a house bid, while RH editors can bid against each other, and against Penguin, as long as there is another bidder outside of the PRH family.
In the first major industry event since the completion of the merger—the Frankfurt Book Fair—Penguin and Random House will take separate stands in Halle 8. Dohle will be leading the PRH delegation, and his customary cocktail party for all RH employees at the fair will be expanded to include Penguin attendees as well.
Despite the current business-as-usual approach, changes will be coming, and one of the first will be on healthcare. According to Applebaum, through 2013, all employees at Penguin and Random House, including new hires, will receive the benefits and work under the personnel policies of their respective companies; but “soon,” PRH will present all U.S. employees with enrollment info for a unified companywide health plan for 2014. And as for when a new, permanent PRH logo will be coming, Applebaum said that should occur in the first part of next year.