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In a wide-ranging interview with the UK’s Bookseller magazine, Penguin Random House (PRH) global CEO Markus Dohle expressed optimism about the state of the industry.
“I am indeed optimistic based on what multiple sources of data show,” he said. “I joked in Frankfurt that I brought a thick fact book, full of data, to support my optimism, which I knew would surprise some people. I know how hard it feels for all of us to make our books successful in this fragmented media landscape, with declining attention spans and multiple distractions. But it is a fact that book markets have been growing over the past 15 years since the digital transformation of media started. We have a business model for digital content distribution and a healthy coexistence between print and digital formats. And audio is an important growth engine for us globally.
“The strength of print formats in recent years has been stabilising the entire book ecosystem—especially the physical retail environment. Our addressable global market and readership—especially for English- language content—is growing substantially every year and demographic change gives us additional tailwind. What’s really heartening is that children’s books have been the fastest-growing segment of our business over the past decade. That’s something to embrace and build on. Our business is one of risk-taking— on every book—and often of failure, but if I look at the broader international publishing landscape, I see a world with many reasons for optimism about the future of books and reading for generations to come.”
He also noted that physical bookshops were still important for discovery and observed: “Today we are selling our books through 120,000 retail locations worldwide – and that number is growing.”
Finally, he was asked how Barack Obama’s book was progressing and whether PRH would be signing President Trump’s memoirs at some point.
“We haven’t yet announced the publication date for [former] President Obama’s book,” he replied. “But I can tell you that he’s busy writing it. I am personally very much looking forward to reading it. His voice and opinion on what’s happening in the world is essential, and will be meaningful to readers globally.
“When it comes to future presidential memoirs, at Penguin Random House our acquisitions are decided by our publishers and editors – not by the CEO.”