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In one of the most memorable phrases of this year’s Futurebook conference in London, organised by the Bookseller, Michael Tamblyn, CEO of Ratuken Kobo said that the industry is becoming “less blindingly white, less uniformly straight and less depressingly male”.

He believes the challenges and different perspectives presented by lockdown, combined with the Black Lives Matter movement, have helped accelerate change.  “In a way, the challenge that was thrown down by Black Lives Matter that had been building for so long before from so many different directions came at a perfect time because it was the one time it was impossible to say that change was too difficult.”

The conference also heard familiar notes of optimism about the state of the global publishing industry from Marcus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House worldwide.  Dohle said it was “the best time to be in the business since Gutenberg invented the printing press” and added that the pandemic had shown that “books matter” and that “reading is resilient”.

Interviewed by Bookseller editor Philip Jones, he was asked about the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) decision to file a lawsuit to block the deal between PRH and Simon & Schuster.  Dohle said that PRH was “the best steward for the Simon & Schuster imprint community and that this transaction is utterly pro-competitive”.

He continued: “We believe that it is positive and good for all constituencies in the industry starting with the agent and author community and retailers, it’s good for retailers and ultimately for readers and of course for us, in that order. We know now that the DoJ disagrees and that is of course disappointing to us, but we are confident that the court will agree with us after looking at the facts, the details, of the industry as a whole and this transaction in particular.”