Nihar Malaviya has recently completed his first six months as interim global CEO of Penguin Random House, a position he has held since December when he was named to the role after Markus Dohle resigned following PRH’s failed attempt to buy Simon & Schuster. PRH parent company Bertelsmann is expected to remove the interim tag by fall and Malaviya continues to act like the permanent head of PRH. Malaviya recently replaced Dohle as the PRH representative on the board of the Association of American Publishers, a post Dohle had continued to hold since his December resignation.
During his brief tenure, Malaviya has begun a number of initiatives to reshape PRH, the most recent one being a voluntary separation offer (VSO). The offer was made this spring to all employees at least 60 years old and who have been with the company for at least 15 years. Employees had until June 20 to decide whether or not to accept the VSO and according to sources, 49% of eligible employees signed on.
The VSO offers employees separation pay based on their weekly base pay as well as an extra 16 weeks of pay. All offers vary according to an employee's years of service. Given the terms, some well-known staff members, from editors to publishers to production personnel, will be departing the company. Most employees who accepted the offer will formally leave September 1, though some may remain until December 15. In addition, some editors will be able to continue to work with some of their long-time authors even after leaving.
The VSO is the most significant move made by Malaviya since February, when he split the Random House Publishing Group back into two groups, encompassing a slimmer RHPG and recreating a separate Crown Publishing Group (CPG)—albeit with some significant differences from its prior iteration, which was folded into the RH group in 2017. The reorg also including the creation of a committee of division heads to oversee PRH US, rather than finding an individual to replace former PRH US CEO Madeline McIntosh, who left the company following the restructuring.
Separating from Dohle
Malaviya’s moves put his own stamp on PRH, one different from that of Dohle. Since his resignation, Dohle has served as an advisor to the global publisher. He turned up at the Bologna Book Fair, the Sharjah Booksellers Conference, and the London Book Fair, where he was celebrated by PRH colleagues.
In addition to advising PRH, Dohle continues to be on several industry boards, but he is not representing PRH in those cases. He continues on the PEN America board, where he made a donation of $500,000 in February 2022, as well on the National Book Foundation board. In May, he was appointed to the newly created board of the Sharjah Book Authority, where he is listed as executive v-p of the PEN America Board of Trustees. Earlier this week, he was named to the board of Canada’s largest bookstore chain, Indigo Books & Music, where again he is not serving as a representative of PRH. A source at the publisher told PW the company was not aware of the Indigo appointment until they read about it.
With reporting by Gayle Feldman.