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The Fall of British Publishing

It is the end of an era for one of the most famous names in book publishing.

Penguin is being sold by Pearson, its owner for the last half-century, as the company focuses its activities exclusively on education.

The sale means that none of the so-called ‘Big Five’ of English-language book publishing remain in British ownership.

Book publishing, like newspaper publishing, is consolidating:

Pearson today announced that it was selling its remaining stake in Penguin Random House, the book publishing joint venture it formed six years ago with Bertelsmann, the German media group.

Macmillian, like Penguin Random House, has had a German owner, Holtzbrinck, for the last 20 years.

John Murray, the original publisher of novelists such as Jane Austen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was bought by Hachette, the French company which also owns Hodder Headline, in 2002.

HarperCollins, the original publisher of authors including the Bronte sisters and HG Wells, has been part of US-listed News Corporation – owner of The Sun, The Times and The Wall Street Journal – for the last 30 years.

And Simon & Schuster, founded in New York 95 years ago and once also owned by Pearson, is part of the US media conglomerate ViacomCBS.

Penguin was famed for its inexpensive paperback editions of classic and quality fiction.

Ian King, for Sky News, reports on the sale and the history of Penguin.

I remember getting a few editions on this side of the Atlantic. Of course for comics enthusiasts the brand is forever linked to one particular book with, as had become the custom for a subset of issues, Penguin incorporated into the title.


above: covers of The Penguin Book of Comics (first and second editions), via Heritage Auctions

 

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Darryl Heine
December/22/2019
@ 8:17 pm

Does Penguin Books own Random House (which owns the book series publishers Golden Books and Beginner Books)?

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