The new company will be called Penguin Random House and will comprise all the English, Spanish and Portuguese language interests of the Penguin Group and of Random House. Bertelsmann will own 53 per cent of the shares and Pearson will hold the remaining 47 per cent. I will be the Chairman of the new company and Markus Dohle, the CEO of Random House, will be the Chief Executive. Markus and I are clear about our respective roles and will begin work later this week on the design of this new creative enterprise. [...] I have no doubt that some authors, agents and customers will express concern to many of us that this merger will reduce choice and competition. I believe, and so I know does Markus, that exactly the opposite will happen. The publishing imprints of the two companies will remain as they are today, competing for the very best authors and the very best books. But our access to investment resources will also allow Penguin Random House to take risks with new authors, to defend our creative and editorial independence, to publish the broadest range of books on the planet, and to do it all with the attention to quality that has always characterized both Penguin and Random House.
Look: Sorry, but that's bullshit. What you have here is a merger between two companies with strikingly different corporate philosophies. Random House is fast-moving (for a publishing company, that is), celebrity-obsessed, and whimsical. Penguin's culture is taciturn, slower, and more thoughtful. I'm making a generalization here, but when a merger like this happens, the louder, dumber, faster company's corporate culture will generally win out. And there's no way that these companies are going to go through with this without committing to huge layoffs.
Over the weekend, I talked with a bookseller who was worried about the local effects of the Penguin Random House deal. Both Random House and Penguin have smart, effective sales representatives in the Northwest. I see them at local book events all the time. There's no way that Penguin Random House is going to keep all those people on the payroll. Good people will lose their jobs. That's short-term.
Long-term, there's no way that these two imprints will be able to maintain their independence. There's a lot of organizational overlap, and no accountant is going to let that go on for more than a quarter or two. We're about to see this frankenpublisher become even more safe (read: dull) and obvious. This is a terrible idea that will only hurt the publishing industry and make it more vulnerable to spry, forward-thinking competitors like Amazon.com.