Penguin Random House UK has launched its consumer website Penguin.co.uk, building on the Penguin brand as the home for its book, author and character content. The group has also launched a new corporate site Penguinrandomhouse.co.uk, designed to showcase its eight publishing divisions and their imprints.
Plans for the consumer site were first unveiled by Penguin Random House UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon in March last year: this week he said the site would “show the strength and breadth of what we do as an entirely new kind of publisher”. He added: "2015 has seen our Penguin-led consumer strategy go from strength-to-strength with the launch of Penguin Platform, the Penguin Podcast, the Summer of Penguin and the ongoing success of our social and email marketing."
Hannah Telfer, group director consumer and digital development at Penguin Random House, said the launch was a “first step” towards a “far deeper and richer relationship between Penguin, our authors and their readers”. Telfer said research had been undertaken via PRH’s 3,000-strong consumer insight panel, along with face to face conversations with “nearly 200 readers aged 8 to 68 years”. According to Telfer the research indicated that consumers did not, predominantly, go to publisher websites to find or buy books, but to “get closer to the authors and characters they love”. Telfer said: “Where there is a real opportunity for us is [helping to] strengthen the relationships between readers and authors. That bonding opportunity is the strategy for our website in the first instance.”
The site is not primarily aimed at book purchasers, but Telfer confirmed that the website would bring in an e-commerce facility later this year. The site currently offers links to selection of different retailers, including Amazon, the Hive, Foyles, W H Smith and Waterstones. “E-commerce is the next stage of the development,” Telfer said, “The strategy is first and foremost about discovering authors and new books, and then we want to provide consumers with the best experience to buy those books.”
The site brings together publishing brands, Penguin, Puffin, and Ladybird, for the first time within one online hub. It has also subsumed many other divisionally-run Penguin and Random House websites, including transworldbooks.co.uk, portfoliopenguin.co.uk, and eburypublishing.co.uk: Telfer said that there were “more than 500 different websites when we came together”. She said website development was now centralised, allowing publishing divisions to concentrate on their author strategies. “We now have a central team building platforms in partnership with our publishing divisions.”
The homepage of the new Penguin.co.uk.
The new Penguin website has been built to showcase books and authors. PRH described it as the “place to discover unique voices from much-loved authors and debuts alike; the place to delve into the stories behind the stories and the place to forge deeper and richer relationships with authors, characters and the Penguin brand through exclusive and curated content and access”.
The new website brings together the Penguin, Puffin, and Ladybird brands for the first time. Pictured are mobile views of the Puffin and Ladybird sections.
Every PRH author will have their own dedicated page, while on the Ladybird and Puffin sections characters such as Peppa Pig, The Snowman and Wimpy Kid will have dedicated areas. There are also genre pages, as well as audiobook and app sections. The site will cross promote content from and about authors, and will feature fresh features and recommendations from writers, as well as others. On launch the site features new pieces by Ian McEwan, James Patterson and Malorie Blackman.
Jon Salt, head of digital development at Penguin Random House, said the site’s “author hubs” had been built to “allow us to capture the identity of each author, in ways that work for a real variety of authors, from Jamie [Oliver] to Georges Simenon”. Telfer said that at launch the site would feature “rich content for a real diversity and breadth of authors across the group so we could really understand what would work best for different types of writer”, with other author pages built up over time.
“The most exciting thing is the potential,” said Telfer. She added: “From today we will experiment, test and learn what works and continually evolve the site to ensure an unbeatable experience that will sit at the hear of our direct relationships with readers.”
The new Penguin Random House corporate website (www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk) features downloadable sales catalogues, publicity contacts and company news. Maureen Corish, group communications director, said: “We now have a place to talk directly with our external audiences as one company and provide a true expression of our diverse business, our incredible publishing, and our award-winning brands. It is major milestone in coming together as one company.”
The homepage of the new Penguin Random House corporate website, as seen on a desktop.