Focus on international growth is 'next phase' for PRH, says Dohle

Focus on international growth is 'next phase' for PRH, says Dohle

Penguin Random House will put a focus on international growth, especially in emerging markets, in its next phase of strategy implementation, global c.e.o. Markus Dohle has said.

In an interview with The Bookseller to mark the fifth anniversary of the creation of the merged publishing house, Dohle said the merger had proved "an extraordinary success around the world - culturally, creatively and commercially", thanks to the publisher's own internal teams, with the new shared offices in New York and London set to "help facilitate even greater collaboration among our teams."  

Now in its next phase, PRH wants to grow in all its territories, Dohle said. The PRH global c.e.o. said that his own international responsibilities have expanded in recent years - hence the five-year anniversary, and the completion of the merger process, was "the perfect time" to appoint dedicated leadership in the US market, in the form of Madeline McIntosh. Dohle previously had direct responsibility for the US business specifically, as well as his global role.

In July, he will travel to China for the fourth time in less than two years. "In China we’ve been hugely successful with the Peppa Pig property, but we are still figuring out how to broaden our children’s and adult publishing businesses....It takes time and laser-focus to develop our publishing operations in different market environments," Dohle told The Bookseller. "In the fall, I’ll spend time in the seven countries in Latin America in which we have publishing operations: Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and of course Brazil."

On the topic of global rights acquisition, Dohle described PRH as a "multi-local" business which supports local authors and publishing talent, in a "very decentralised way". However, "if it makes sense for an author, we want to bring their story to readers everywhere in a coordinated and collaborative publishing effort", he said. "What drives our thinking is what’s best for the writer and the book--that hasn’t changed and it won’t change in the future."

Dohle also spoke of the publisher's direct-to-consumer approach, saying: "As publishers, we need to become much more reader-centric and end-consumer focused in a world in which online sales channels constantly gain market share. We need to both be able to listen to readers and understand their preferences - and we have to communicate with them and try to put their next best reads directly in front of them. And we need to do all of that at scale." At the same time, PRH was "working on further optimising the availability of our books in physical retail by increasing our in-stock rates while reducing return rates", he said, with the publisher now selling its books through 120,000 retail locations worldwide.

On the issue of Amazon and territorial copyright, recently raised by Publishers Association president Charlie Redmayne in the UK, Dohle noted that Amazon was PRH's "largest and fastest-growing international customer", saying: "Because of the nature of their global business and distribution, copyright issues can occur. And a faster and more efficient international supply chain can support and leverage these issues. We are committed to working with Amazon to resolve and mitigate territorial copyright issues. We try to manage copyright challenges just as we do with piracy in digital formats. So far we’ve been fairly successful in managing piracy in our industry, and I hope we’ll be able to contain the recent territoriality and copyright issues that have emerged in a physical book marketplace that has become increasingly online and global."

Read the full interview with Markus Dohle here.