Check the timeline: in October 2012 Pearson and Bertelsmann announce the merger of their respective trade publishing companies, Penguin and Random House, causing shock waves in international publishing with two of the world’s biggest publishing houses uniting.
It takes a while for changes to impact down under, but in August 2014 Penguin New Zealand and Random House New Zealand begin the process of fully integrating as Penguin Random House New Zealand. Teams came together under one roof in January this year and the Random House warehouse was closed in April.
Sixteen months on, Penguin Random House is not only fully merged, it is enjoying the benefits of being one business Staff are enjoying being together in the former Pearson offices in Apollo Drive in Auckland which is a modern space providing a lovely working environment.
Publishing – sprints to the finish for a large list
Debra Millar says her publishing team “Rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in,” from early January. “We had a tight time frame with having to get s many books to the printers by June. And it was a big list – close to 90 titles for the year. But everyone coped really well.
“It was also great that when we brought the two companies’ 2015 lists together there were no overlaps.”
And no downsizing either as Margaret Thompson explains “When we merged we simply progressed with publishing those titles that each company had acquired for their individual lists. So there was no reduction in titles for 2015”.
The combined publishing team now has more dedicated resources, with a fiction publisher, Harriet Allan, and a children’s publisher, Catherine O’Loughlin, notes Debra. ”Fresh eyes and perspectives have also identified new opportunities.”
Super sales reps
Carrie Welch, Sales Director, says her team of seven reps – Marthie Markstein, Paula Pengelly, Trish Harvey, Jan Riley, Keith Bitchener, Louise Crisp and Candice Poissonnier headed by field sales manager Phil Hosking – each cover the company’s entire local and overseas lists. “We have one Random House list and one Penguin list per month. The reps really hit their stride as soon as we came together. They now visit most accounts twice each month, which booksellers tell us they appreciate.” With between 150 – 250 titles on each of the two lists for retailers to assess it is a prudent strategy!
“The cycle was set up to ensure, given the size of our combined lists, that we continued to do justice to two very good lists, but more importantly that we weren’t overwhelming booksellers and our own teams with a huge number of new titles at any one time,” Carrie says.
In addition to the company’s best-selling front list titles, the combined back lists are perennial performers. There is also a dedicated focus on bespoke publishing opportunities for corporates and retail partners.
Twelve months on staff slide effortlessly and knowledgeably between Penguin and Random House imprints, and other Penguin Random House businesses around the world are looking to the way the New Zealand teams have come together. “I think everyone feels very comfortable now,” says Margaret Thompson. “There have obviously been a lot of challenges, but at the end of the day everybody here shares a passion for books and publishing and that underpins what every person does every day.”