Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Liz Mohn, the woman behind Penguin Random House - "books mean a lot to me"
Liz Mohn, the woman behind media giant Bertelsmann, talks about the future
of Penguin Random House - just don't ask her about Suzanne Mubarak, says Sophie
Liz Mohn, the woman behind media
giant Bertelsmann: 'books mean a lot to me'.Photo:
By Sophie Hardach
The Telegraph - 13 Dec 2012
Liz Mohn is a quiet type of media tycoon. Her company, Bertelsmann, recently
merged its publishing arm, Random House, with Penguin to form the world’s
largest bookspublisher. It’s the German
media giant’s first major deal since Mohn took over after her husband’s death in
2009, and has set off a flurry of speculation about the future of publishing.
Some are simply relieved that Penguin has not ended up in the hands of Rupert
Murdoch. Others fear that Bertelsmann, the conglomerate behind The X
Factor, Fifty Shades of Grey and brash broadcaster RTL, will squash
Penguin’s literary heritage. And then there are those who simply don’t like the
thought of progressive Penguin marrying into a German company that for decades
lied about its Nazi past.
In her first public comment on the merger, Mohn, who controls Bertelsmann
together with her children, argued that authors will benefit from being part of
a bigger group.
“Books do mean a lot to me: Bertelsmann grew big on books, and I myself grew
up with them,” Mohn told me. “We will continue to publish books for a mass
public as well as works for smaller readerships. The planned combination will
give authors from all genres even more publishing options for the success of
Such options include ebooks, which Mohn believes will “coexist comfortably”
with printed books rather than lead to their downfall. She also emphasised that
each imprint would make its decisions independently. And Random House is not
exactly a literary lightweight: Haruki Murakami, John Irving and Ian McEwan are
among its authors.
However, encouraging independent decision-making is not quite the same as
having a range of independent publishers. On a recent New York Times
bestseller list, 11 out of 15 titles were published by an imprint belonging to
either Penguin or Random House. Agents often try to raise an author’s advance
through a bidding war, but why would imprints owned by the same group bid
against each other? Full story at The Telegraph