Penguin Random House c.e.o. Markus Dohle has warned staff the publisher may need to tighten its belt in its approach to publishing facing "the difficult times ahead".
Despite a strong performance in 2019, reported on Tuesday (24th March) by parent company Bertelsmann, Dohle wrote in a letter to staff that in light of the coronavirus pandemic it was "inevitable that we will have to endure some impact on our business" and PRH would "need to adjust and adapt our business on a daily basis and maintain a very cost- and cash-conscious approach".
After Bertelsmann posted PRH was up 6.2% in both revenues and profits in 2019, Dohle began his letter congratulating staff on "another good year for Penguin Random House globally". "We grew our company and market share in many of our markets and closed an impressive list of acquisitions and investments, we achieved significant audio growth, and we delivered a long list of bestsellers," he said.
"But 2019 seems so long ago," he continued, "as we now face a global pandemic that has shaken our book community to its core. Thanks to your joint efforts and co-ordinated work, I know we will prevail in the difficult times ahead.
"Our consistent, solid performance year after year and the strong foundation and infrastructure we have built for our company notwithstanding, it is inevitable that we will have to endure some impact on our business this year. With this understanding, we will need to adjust and adapt our business on a daily basis and maintain a very cost and cash-conscious approach. I am confident that we will leverage our collective strengths and solidarity to successfully manage through this challenging time together."
Dohle paid tribute to PRH's "heroic" supply-chain colleagues around the world, who he said were "shipping books wherever we can", and said the company would be supporting its retail partners "during and after" the crisis, given some had been forced to close or were experiencing falling demand.
He closed: "Colleagues, we will confront this crisis together—and we will come out on the other side of it—with books and for books, and for our society."
Dohle's words follow an appeal from the European & International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) to governments worldwide "to remember the importance of books in our society" and provide support, including financial aid, in light of the enforced closures.