Dohle tells Frankfurt of Amazon 'co-operation'

Dohle tells Frankfurt of Amazon 'co-operation'

Penguin Random House c.e.o. Markus Dohle has told the Frankfurt Book Fair that the relationship between publishers and Amazon should be one of co-operation and not confrontation.

Interviewed by international trade press at the Frankfurt Book Fair today (Wednesday 9th October), Dohle said that the aims of publishers and Amazon were aligned.

Asked about agent Andrew Wylie's recent comments in The New Republic, Dohle said: "Fundamentally, the relationship is about co-operation and not about confrontation. I don't let anyone talk me into the confrontational mantra. We want to reach out to as many readers as possible. Of course, we have to manage each other, on issues such as terms, but fundamentally, we are aligned."

He added: "I have a great deal of respect for the entrepreneurial achievements of Amazon and what they brought to the market, and we should not forget that." Dohle credited the success of the Kindle with limiting e-book piracy, which he called "a gift for the book world". He said: "My hypothesis is that [Amazon has] expanded the market . . . they have brought innovation and they've grown for a reason, and we will grow together."

Dohle was bullish about the ongoing success of print, saying he was confident that print, which he said was currently 80% of PRH sales, would remain a key part of its business for years to come. He said: "Our basic strategic idea is that print will always be important, while digital will also be important too. We are saying even in 100 years, print will be important . . . that means we continue to invest in print. We call it zig zag strategy. When everyone else moves away from print, we invest in it. They go zig, we go zag."

Dohle's appearance at the fair came the day after Penguin Random House's first 100 days as a combined company. He said: "We have had a good first quarter, and a good start is half the race. We always wanted to have a smooth start, a very quiet landing. My aim was for it be as quiet as possible. " He said he wanted the merger to be "the most boring merger in history" so as to avoid distracting staff from the day to day work of the company.

Dohle said PRH continued to emphasise independence for each of the imprints "creatively and entrepreneurially", since "no creative likes big. Our authors like things to be small and personal". However, he said the scale of the new company allowed it to support the small units with a large marketing machine. He said: "Size is not a virtue in and of itself. But it can bring benefits."

Dohle claimed the biggest change facing publishing was discoverability. He said: "Our size means we are better placed on how to crack the code of discoverability, in a world where there are fewer bookstores."

He also addressed self-publishing, an area which he has come closer to home thanks to Penguin's ownership of self-publishing company Author Solutions. Dohle said: "I think self-publishing makes curated publishers more important… a few years ago we would have 85,000 titles at Frankfurt and ask how we could cope, now we have hundreds of thousands of titles with ISBNs, but people need orientation and guidance more than ever, and publishers can provide that."