Arts & Entertainment

‘The Big Flop of the Most Powerful Man in Book Publishing,’ by Shawn McCreesh

— Carl Swanson, editor-at-large, New York

For the past 14 years, the German media executive Markus Dohle — whom most regular people have never heard of — was the king of consolidation in book publishing. Despite or maybe because of that, he was well liked, or at least respected. At the behest of his bosses at Bertelsmann, he combined Random House with Penguin in 2013, which cast a scale shadow over its four also fairly consolidated rivals. But when he tried to gobble up another big house, Simon & Schuster, and failed, well, as New York’s Shawn McCreesh reports today, “his imperial publishing house’s weaknesses had been laid bare for all to see.” It was quite a plot twist. Now that he’s been dethroned, it’s not entirely clear what will become of S&S — or the game of thrones of big book publishing in general. And amid the power vacuum, the bureaucratic infighting within PRH has already begun.
Markus Dohle’s Big Flop What Penguin Random House’s failed bid to eat Simon & Schuster means for publishing.
Photo: Johannes Arlt/laif/Redux
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