Thoughts on Digital Publishing: Random House Group Interview

In our second blog of this series that comes ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair (Oct. 9th-13th), we continue an enlightening discussion about the state of the digital publishing industry and which firms are leading digital strategy efforts.

The first interview in our series was with Kate Wilson, Managing Director at children’s book publisher Nosy Crow. Our second interview continues the discussion on digital strategy with Dan Franklin, Digital Publisher at Random House Group. The Random House Group Ltd includes five publishing companies including Cornerstone, Ebury Publishing, Transworld Publishers, Vintage Publishing and Random House Children’s Publishers. The company became a Penguin Random House Company in July 2013, with the combined firm boasting 10,000 global staff members and more than 15,000 new annual titles.

What do you hope to see/ achieve at Frankfurt this year?

It’s a mix of reflection, projection and pontification as usual. I’ll be busy as I’m going to Contec on Tuesday and I’m speaking on the topics of ‘What Is a Publisher?’ at the SPARKS stage at 10.45am on Wednesday. I’ll have a good mix of meetings with foreign publishers to take the temperature of digital growth in other territories, and some meetings with current and prospective partners. There will also be a good amount of Penguin Random House socializing and getting-to-know-you sessions.

How do you work with digital suppliers?

I really value the social relationships I have with suppliers, and that for me is the most important element. We need to be able to empathize with each other and the content/context of the project, and once that is set then great work follows.

What do you think is the biggest enhancement/ most transforming thing seen in the digital publishing space this year?

The biggest transformation is the continuing growth of online writing and reading platforms like Medium, Hi and Pocket.

How important is cross-platform publishing for you?

Very. We need to be able to reach as many people as possible. It can be difficult to see the value of investing in some platforms at the moment where the marketplace is either averse to paying, completely chaotic, or really under-populated. But the platforms can’t grow without enthusiasm and investment from media companies, so we’re exploring everything we can.

What publishers, in your opinion, are leading the way with their digital strategy?

Vice Media. Hands down. They keep attracting really superb writing talent and they are slyly brilliant with their brand. I really like what Random House Canada are doing with Hazlitt, for example their interview with David ‘I’m not interested in teaching books by women’ Gilmour rightly set the internet alight. We’re also a fan of The New Inquiry. I really respect what Picador has achieved with THE KILLS by Richard House, not least getting a novel with real digital ambition shortlisted for the Booker.

Visit our blog for the third interview in the series which provides another perspective on digital publishing from Eric Huang, Development Director at Made in Me, a children-focused digital agency.

Categories: Experts, Industry Research

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