Penguin Random House’s bid to buy Simon & Schuster was always going to change the future of the world’s largest trade book publisher, but the remake is not happening along the lines former PRH CEO (and current CEO emeritus) Markus Dohle had originally planned. The ruling by Judge Florence Pan that stopped the acquisition set off a string of events that included Dohle’s resignation, the promotion of PRH US COO Nihar Malaviya to interim global CEO, and PRH US CEO Madeline McIntosh’s decision, announced last week, to step down once she has helped Malaviya complete the creation of a new organizational structure for PRH.
Though the restructuring is still a work in progress, its goal is to reinvigorate internal competition for new titles among PRH’s many imprints while also providing multiple touch points for agents to pitch their books to different PRH editors. The question about how aggressively different PRH imprints actually bid against one another came up during the trial of the Department of Justice’s suit to block PRH’s S&S purchase.
The reorganization will also put in place a new corporate leadership structure that is unlikely to include a new PRH US CEO. Instead, the leadership group will comprise executives from different parts of PRH (at present, there are no plans to hire someone from outside the company) who will bring different ways of thinking about the business. The new structure will also reflect PRH’s commitment to its DEI initiatives and continue to feature women in positions of power. The current U.S. board, including McIntosh, is composed of 12 women and two men.
In his memo to staff about McIntosh’s departure and the reorg, Malaviya, who is widely expected to become the permanent global CEO, wrote that he’s working closely with her “to minimize any disruption to the company and all of you. I understand that changes like this naturally create unease. Please rest assured that we will move as quickly as possible.”
According to sources, if all goes well, the new structure could be in place by the end of February. It isn’t clear if the restructuring will address the question of finding a replacement for Gina Centrello, who retired in January as president and publisher of the Random House Publishing Group.
McIntosh said that with all the company has gone through over the past three years—coping with the global pandemic, the agreement to buy S&S, and the subsequent trial—she felt the time was right to step away. “I am very proud about what we have accomplished together,” McIntosh told PW.
Her route to becoming CEO was a circuitous one. McIntosh was named CEO in April 2018 after serving as president of the Penguin Publishing Group. She began her career at Bantam Doubleday Dell in its new media division, left publishing in 2008 to become director of Kindle content acquisition for Amazon in Luxembourg, and was recruited by Dohle to join Random House in 2009. Among the positions she has held at what is now PRH are president and COO of PRH US; publisher of Random House Audio; and director of adult sales at Random House.
In her memo, McIntosh said one reason for her decision to leave is that she doesn’t believe it’s good for CEOs to “stay in their seats forever. Fresh perspectives can be incredibly healthy and helpful for organizations.” She told PW she understands that with a new organization being put in place, “there is no need for the old person to hang around.” She added that she’s “itching to try something new,” and while she doesn’t have any firm plans in place, she would like to be at a company involved with book publishing somehow.
Despite the slowing sales and higher costs that have hit the industry in recent months, McIntosh said she believes publishing is in a good place, “especially for those who like to innovate.”