Troubling week

I have had many discussions with book trade insiders over the changes at Penguin Random House and HarperCollins this week. One conversation struck me as particularly thought-provoking. As the individual concerned wishes to remain anonymous, I have summarised their thoughts below:
 
"It's been a disturbing week. There are three issues that concern me: the masculinisation of the industry, the franchisation of the industry and the shift of power to the US.
 
"Three and a half years ago [Penguin m.d.] Helen Fraser was swept aside, making way for Tom Weldon. It feels to me like something terrible is happening; some of the best publishers of our time are extraordinary women, and none better than Gail Rebuck. It is now noticeable that something is going on which is about women and the masculinisation of our industry. Helen Fraser, Gail Rebuck, Vicky Barnsley—people who changed the face of UK publishing—are being moved aside or out.
 
"It may be that publishers feeling embattled, on a back foot, is prompting this. Three and a half years ago we had four women leading publishing houses, and now we have one: Ursula Mackenzie at Little, Brown. I feel it is the same phenomenon we are seeing in broadcasting and the media in general—what's happening with the disappearance of experienced, mature women at the top level?
 
"Secondly, Charlie Redmayne and Tom Weldon are both men who came up largely through a passion for brand and franchise and not author and heritage, and that's a worry. Tom started as Philippa Harrison's assistant at Macmillan, working with writers, but his recent history at Penguin has seen Penguin move further away from developing author and editor relationships. His great defining successes are Jeremy Clarkson and Jamie Oliver. I'm all for them being part of a diverse offering, but latterly this has been his main focus. And he's now going to take over from Gail at Random House, which has been much more diverse, with a large range of editorial sensibilities, and the way it operates is much more author-friendly.
 
"I feel secure that Ian Hudson is handling International at Penguin Random House—there are no safer hands than Ian's. But Tom Weldon only has the UK, and Charlie Redmayne only has the UK. This is a further potential problem. Traditionally the UK has been interested in export and the US hasn't. This may be a sea change. If you split away the export territories, there is a real danger that the UK will become an insignificant English language market in global terms and will be sidelined.
 
"The Financial Times touched on the Americanisation of our industry [in its coverage of the PRH merger] and they're not wrong. Penguin and HarperCollins will be run out of the US just as the big players Google and Apple are also run out of the US. There is a real danger that the UK is in the process of becoming just another territory."