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Penguin, Random House Complete Merger

By | Monday July 1, 2013 @ 3:30am PDT

The world’s leading consumer publisher has been formed via the merger of Penguin and Random House. Respective owners Pearson and Bertelsmann announced the merger of the groups last October and today confirm the deal is done. Bertelsmann will own 53% and Pearson 47% of the new company, Penguin Random House. The company will include all of Random House and Penguin Group’s publishing divisions and imprints in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and India, as well as Random House’s publishers in Spain and Latin America, and Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and South Africa. Headquartered in New York, the company is expected to generate annual revenues of about $3.9B. Random House chair and CEO Markus Dohle will be CEO of Penguin Random House. Penguin Group chief John Makinson will be chairman of the board.

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Jim Gaffigan Signs Deal For Second Book As His CBS Comedy Pilot Stays Alive

By | Tuesday June 25, 2013 @ 8:41pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

A month after the release of Jim Gaffigan‘s first book, Dad Is Fat, its publisher, Crown Archetype, has signed the comedian for a second book. I hear Gaffigan’s deal with the imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House is in the seven-figure range. The untitled followup will be a collection of essays about one of Gaffigan’s favorite topics: food. It will be published in 2014. Dad Is Fat debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller’s list and has nearly 115,000 hardcover copies in print.

CAA/Brillstein Entertainment Partners-repped Gaffigan, currently on a 50-city national tour, toplined a comedy pilot for CBS he co-created with Peter Tolan this past season. The project missed the cut in May but remains alive, with the network and producing studio Sony TV discussing ways to retool it.

Related: CBS Re-Piloting ‘The McCarthys’ As Multi-Camera Comedy

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Justice Department Approves Merger Of Penguin & Random House

By | Thursday February 14, 2013 @ 11:16am PST

Creation of the world’s leading consumer publisher is a step closer to reality. Pearson and Bertelsmann say the Justice Department has closed its review of the proposed merger of Penguin and Random House “without conditions”. Last October, Penguin’s owner Pearson and Random House owner Bertelsmann announced an agreement to join the two publishing houses. Under terms of the deal, Bertelsmann would own 53% and Pearson 47% of the new company, to be called Penguin Random House. The combined company would have about a 25%-30% share as the companies look to fend off competition in the e-book space. The proposed merger is still under review by the European Commission, the Canadian Competition Bureau and other groups. The publishers hope to close the deal later this year.

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Pearson To Merge Penguin With Bertelsmann’s Random House

By | Monday October 29, 2012 @ 2:09am PDT

Despite reported last-minute interest from News Corp., UK-based Pearson has agreed to merge its Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House. It creates the world’s leading consumer publisher. The deal, announced Monday morning, comes after the News Corp.-owned Sunday Times said Rupert Murdoch had indicated he would offer about $1.6B for Penguin. A combination of Penguin and News Corp.’s HarperCollins would have had an English-language book market share of 20%, and appeared favored by analysts, according to Reuters. The combined Penguin Random House will have about a 25%-30% share as the companies look to fend off competition in the e-book space. The joint venture will be 53%-owned by Bertelsmann and 47%-owned by Pearson and is subject to regulatory and other approvals. It is expected to close in the second half of 2013. Following is the press release from Pearson: Read More »

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News Corp Eyes Bid For Penguin: Report

By | Sunday October 28, 2012 @ 3:35pm PDT

News Corp is jumping into the bidding for Pearson’s Penguin book imprint, according to News Corp’s Sunday Times of London. News chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch “has indicated he will make a substantial cash offer — thought to be about £1 billion ($1.6 billion) — for Penguin”, the Times said. An offer from News Corp could derail the planned merger of Penguin with Bertlesmann-owned Random House or ignite a bidding war. A combination of  Penguin and HarperCollins would have an English-language book market share of 20%. A merger of Penguin and Random House would have about a 25%-30% market share. Publishers have been facing fierce competition from Amazon, Apple and Google in the e-book business.

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FT: Random House And Penguin In Merger Talks

By | Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 9:26am PDT

Of course both of these publishers provide plenty of source material for Hollywood. Now the Financial Times is reporting that the parent companies of Random House and Penguin are in talks to combine the units. Random House’s Bertelsmann would have more than a 50% stake in any tie-up with Pearson’s Penguin, which combined could control one-quarter of the U.S. and UK publishing market, the paper says. The publishing sector has been facing fierce competition from the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google in the e-book business.

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Lena Dunham Book To Random House For Upwards Of $3.5 Million

By | Monday October 8, 2012 @ 10:14am PDT
Mike Fleming

RELATED: Lena Dunham Book Bidding At $3.6 Million

Random House and Lena Dunham slipped to The New York Times the news that RH is where she will write her humorous essay book Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned. The publisher will pay her upwards of $3.5 million, which was pretty much where Deadline pegged it last week. Now, the question is: does this book have any chance to earn out? It was constantly being compared in the press to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which went for a reported $5 million and became a bestseller. You knew that book was going to sell for a pile of dough: Fey was the head writer of Saturday Night Live, she anchored Weekend Update for years, and created and starred in the hit NBC sitcom 30 Rock and who can forget her wonderful appearance with Steve Martin during the Oscars several years ago? She gets offered the hosting gig all the time, but has been too busy to say yes. She is a big star.

I gotta admit, I don’t get Lena Dunham. Her film, Tiny Furniture, got some acclaim, but grossed only $392,000. I found her HBO comedy series Girls to be too cringe-worthy to watch, and tuned out after the first couple of episodes when her character went off to have sex with her indifferent booty call partner. When she spoke to him too much as … Read More »

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‘Bullhead’ Helmer Michael R. Roskam To Helm ‘The Tiger’ For Focus Features

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Michael R. Roskam, who got a Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar nomination last year for his Belgian film Bullhead, has been set by Focus Features to make his Hollywood feature helming debut with The Tiger, a drama based on the John Vaillant book that was adapted by Babel scribe Guillermo Arriaga.

This film was set up originally as a directing vehicle for Darren Aronofsky, who stepped off the project to direct the Russell Crowe-starrer Noah. Brad Pitt produces with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B and Aronofsky is producing with Protozoa cohorts Mark Heyman and Ari Handel. The book was published last year by the Random House imprint Knopf, and it is a co-production between Focus and Random House Productions. The film is a fact-based story that takes place on the Siberian plain, where humans encroach on a tiger’s habitat with tragic results. There is a great male lead role of an animal activist and researcher who must stop a man-eating tiger that is attacking the inhabitants of a remote village in Russia’s Far East. The tiger isn’t just killing people, it’s murdering them, and the team that tracks him know their nemesis is cunning, injured, and starving, making it even more dangerous.

It becomes the second significant project in Hollywood for Roskam, who … Read More »

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Random House Signs First-Look Deal With FremantleMedia, Starts Random House TV

By | Wednesday July 25, 2012 @ 9:32am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Jeffrey Levine Random House TelevisionAmerican Idol producer FremantleMedia and Random House Inc, the U.S. division of trade-book publisher Random House, have partnered to develop scripted television programming for the U.S. and international markets based on the fiction and nonfiction books published by Random House’s imprints in North America and internationally. As part of the first-look deal, Random House Studio, the publisher’s rebranded entertainment division led by president Peter Gethers, is launching new division Random House Television. It will work together with Random House’s editors and publishers, and their authors’ agents, to acquire rights for broadcast network, cable, and premium television scripted projects and will collaborate with Random House authors to develop original scripted television properties. Both FremantleMedia and Random House are Bertelsmann AG companies. Read More »

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Random House, Politico Form E-Book Publishing Ticket For 2012 Elections

By | Monday June 27, 2011 @ 6:40am PDT
Mike Fleming

(June 27, 2011)— The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., the largest English-language trade book publisher, announced today a new joint venture with POLITICO, the leading source for political news, to publish a series of four instant digital books on the 2012 Presidential Election. The books, which will be available exclusively in electronic form, to be published starting this fall, will give readers an unprecedented look behind the scenes of the election in real time, providing detail, color, in-depth analysis beyond the hourly headlines and commentary, and ultimately a look at the final results, and how and why it all happened.

The as-yet-untitled series will be reported and written by Mike Allen, POLITICO’s chief White House Correspondent and author of the renowned daily tip-sheet, Playbook, and Evan Thomas, award-winning writer and author. Each book will include exclusive reporting from the campaign trail and will chronicle the campaign as it unfolds.

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Ex-e-Book Foes Random House And Andrew Wylie Make Salman Rushdie Memoir Deal

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The e-book rift between Random House Worldwide chairman Markus Dohle and lit agent Andrew Wylie really is in the past history books. The duo has formalized a far-reaching deal to publish a memoir by Salman Rushdie. The book will be published in 2012 and will cover the Booker Prize-winning author’s entire life, including the time when he was forced into hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life following the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988. It revives a long relationship between the author and publisher.

The seven-figure deal will involve multiple imprints under the Random House roof, and covers hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book rights for English, German and Spanish-speaking territories. Random House will publish in most of the territories, while Knopf Canada will handle the book up north. The RH imprint Jonathan Cape will publish in the UK; Germany will be handled by RH’s Verlagsgruppe Random House imprint and Spain and Latin America editions will be published by Random House Mondadori’s Literatura Modadori. The Wylie Agency will sell other territories.

This is a giant turnaround from earlier this year, when Random House issued its own fatwa on Wylie after he revealed plans to form an imprint and sell the e-book rights to his author backlists exclusively to Amazon for use on its Kindle device. Dohle rescinded his order to view Wylie as a competitor when they met and found common ground for RH to continue … Read More »

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Random House’s Strong Half-Year Results Driven By ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Sales

Mike Fleming

Anyone who doubts the potential of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo need look no further than how the half-year earnings of Bertselmann and its Random House division were positively impacted by the sales of the Millennium novel trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson. Bertelsmann issued its half-year report this morning, and cited the performance by Random House as a big reason for its own record half-year results.  According to a letter sent company-wide by Random House chairman/CEO Markus Dohle, the publisher’s sales were up nearly 8%, and profit doubled to around $50 million on revenues close to $1 billion, despite a shaky economy.

The reason? Dohle singles out the sales of the Larsson trilogy, which Random House publishes in the U.S. and Germany. “Their cumulative 6.5 million-copy impact on our overall half-year figures is substantial, and Larsson’s print and digital sales continue to skyrocket,” Dohle writes in the memo. “Stieg Larsson is the first author ever to sell one million e-books on the Kindle. This additional e-book revenue and readership opportunity is just one of the many reasons we are so excited about our robust digital-publishing momentum.”

The e-book results for the half year are showing how important digital sales are becoming to the bottom line of all publishing houses. Dohle said worldwide digital sales are on course to exceed $100 million. The first half results were up 300% for Random House in the U.S. A majority of … Read More »

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Indie Booksellers Debate E-Book Drama

Mike Fleming

The Wylie Agency’s e-book exclusivity dispute with the publishing industry continues to dominate. (Random House vs Agents On E-Books) Everyone’s got a different opinion about Andrew Wylie’s decision to start his own imprint and broker an exclusive e-book deal  with Amazon. While Wylie’s actions led the Random House Publishing Group to view him as a competitor and not do business with him, his maverick move has given leverage to agents all over the lit landscape right now, one dealmaker just told me. “Publisher contract divisions are starting to acknowledge that the e-book author-house percentages are changing. They are verbally promising and writing into contracts clauses that say these percentages will be revisited when the books are published.” Now the American Booksellers Association, the guardian angel of the independent booksellers, just weighed in via their Bookselling This Week weekly membership newsletter:

Last week’s news of literary agent Andrew Wylie’s exclusive agreement with Amazon.com to publish Kindle editions of 20 backlist titles by notable writers represented by Wylie provoked strong reactions among some major publishers and elicited extensive industry discussion regarding the implications of this potential disintermediation. On Wednesday, July 21, Wylie announced the launch of Odyssey Editions and its exclusive deal with Amazon.com. Under the agreement, backlist titles by such contemporary authors as John Updike, Louise Erdrich, and Saul Bellow would be available for the first time as e-books,

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Janet Evanovich Makes New Deal At RH

Mike Fleming

Janet Evanovich, the bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series, is moving from St. Martin’s Press to a new 4-book deal for world rights at the Random House Publishing Group. The first title will be published next year under the Ballantine Bantam Dell imprint. Deadline revealed that despite being St. Martin’s biggest fiction author, Evanovich and her agent/son Peter got turned down by the publisher when they asked $50 million for four more books. Interestingly, Evanovich started her book career at Bantam, part of RHPG. Peter Evanovich shopped the deal hard last week. I’m not sure how close he got to that magic $50 million number…

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Random House Bullying Agents On E-Books – But Is It Legal?

Mike Fleming

Most summers, the biggest late-week concern among publishing honchos is Long Island Expressway traffic to the Hamptons. This week has proven different. Debate is raging about how vulnerable major publishing houses suddenly are after book agent Andrew Wylie formed an electronic publishing imprint for his authors and made an exclusive deal with Amazon. This means that instead of leaving it to a publisher and taking a low split, Wylie gave Amazon sole e-book rights to titles like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, John Updike’s Rabbit Run series, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. You can read all of them only on the Kindle for $9.99 each, under Wylie’s own Odyssey Editions imprint.

Random House responded with sheer thuggery, blacklisting Wylie in a clear attempt to scare other authors and their reps from trying the same thing. Other publishers also expressed outrage in different ways, like Macmillan CEO John Sargent, who railed about how Wylie’s exclusive deals excluded other e-devices like the Sony Reader (like Macmillan really cares about anything other than its own fortunes). What neither of these houses addressed is the $64,000 question: do they control e-book rights in contracts signed before anyone imagined that e-books might surpass print titles? Many feel the answer is no.

Random House, unable so far to prove different, is using intimidation as a fallback ploy. It’s scary, given the sheer volume of books it publishes, but probably not effective in the long term. The publisher tried in 2001 to nip this whole thing in the bud, suing for summary judgment to stop an e-book venture called Rosetta Books. Random House lost. More recently, Bertelsmann Publishing chairman Markus Dohle sent a warning shot to agents, telling them the publisher was determined to protect its e-book rights, but once again, not mentioning whether it actually controlled them.

“They’ve not said we have the e-rights to the books you’ve written,” said one well connected dealmaker. “They say, we have publishing rights to these books, it costs us a fortune to run this place, and e-books are a huge source of revenue. If we can’t have it all, we’re not working with you.” Read More »

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