In what looks to be a response to declining mass market sales, Penguin has merged its Berkley imprint into the unified Putnam and Dutton group.

Ivan Held, previously named president of the merged Putnam and Dutton imprint, will now take over the direction of the Berkley Publishing Group. As a result of the changes, Leslie Gelbman, president of Berkley Publishing Group, is leaving the company at the end of January. Gelbman has been with the house for 27 years.

Christine Ball, now v-p and deputy publisher of Putnam/Dutton/Berkley, who oversees marketing and publicity, will continue to report to Held in an expanded capacity. In addition, Claire Zion, v-p and editor-in-chief of Berkley, and Raymond Garcia, v-p and publisher Celebra, will now both report to Held.

According to Madeline McIntosh, president of the Penguin Publishing Group, the three imprints will maintain their distinct “publishing direction and identity,” each with its own dedicated editorial, marketing and publicity departments. At the same time, she said, Berkley’s managing editorial, production editorial and production departments will be “more closely integrated with the rest of the publishing group.”

In addition, Patty King, who has directed Berkley production as well as managed corporate publishing operations, will move into a strictly corporate role as v-p and director of strategic production spend management. With these changes Rick Nayer, v-p and associate publisher of Berkley, will be leaving the company after 37 years.

On its surface the changes look as though PRH is trying to cut back its number of mass market titles, which have lost much of their market share to e-books. But, when asked about this, McIntosh emphasized that Berkley remains “committed” to publishing mass market paperbacks, while continuing to “refine the size of the list in order to ensure optimum results per title.”

When PW asked a Penguin spokesperson about the house's strategy with mass market paperbacks, especially in light of the fact that they continue to decline in sales, the source said it would be "premature to definitely declare such a reduction today." The spokesperson continued: "We will continue to review our mass market publishing program closely, in line with the distribution channels currently available for them.”

Correction: Christine Ball's title was inaccurate in an earlier version of this story. She is v-p and deputy publisher of Putnam/Dutton/Berkley.