Random House (Publisher)

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Random House Tower in New York City (2010)

Random House, Inc. is an established in 1927 trade publisher based in New York . In 1998 it was taken over by the German media group Bertelsmann and merged with Penguin Books in 2013 . Bertelsmann initially held 53 percent of the new company Penguin Random House and the media group Pearson 47 percent of the shares. The independent German publishing group Random House remained entirely with Bertelsmann.


In the mid-1920s, Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer were offered to take over a series of classic reprints from Boni & Liveright . Both founders raised $ 100,000 each for the acquisition and in 1927 founded the publishing house Random House , based in New York City . The company achieved greater notoriety as early as 1933 after it was able to enforce the publication of Ulysses in court. The book by the Irish writer James Joyce was banned in the USA until then . In the 1950s, Random House became the leading publisher in the United States and made various takeovers, for example from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Pantheon Books . In 1959 the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange , which was seen as a further step towards commercializing the publishing industry. Initially, 30 percent of the shares in Random House were traded. In 1965, Radio Corporation of America acquired the entire company for approximately $ 40 million. The following year, Bennett Cerf, as Chairman and President of Random House, left the last founder.

To strengthen the paperback business , the company acquired Ballantine Books in 1974. Since then, Random House has been the most important book brand in the United States. In the following years the publisher grew significantly through further takeovers, for example Fawcett Books (1982) and Crown Publishing Group (1988). The latter publisher in particular expanded the company's program considerably, but the merger was also criticized as a threat to the diversity of literature . Due to a changed strategy of the Radio Corporation of America, in the course of which Random House was no longer part of the core business, the publishing house was passed on to Advance Publications to Samuel Irving Newhouse in 1980 . The aim was to create synergies between Random House and Condé Nast Verlag , which could only be implemented to a limited extent. In March 1998 Bertelsmann finally announced that it would take over Random House.

The takeover caused a stir in the United States and was seen as a threat. because Bertelsmann has acquired an "important part of American culture". At the time, Random House had annual sales of $ 870 million , making it the second largest publisher in the country. The acquisition itself was initiated by Thomas Middelhoff , who later became CEO of Bertelsmann. Under his aegis, Random House merged with the US publisher Bantam Doubleday Dell , in which the group had already participated in 1980. In addition, in 2001 the German Bertelsmann publishing group changed its name to Random House publishing group , making Random House the global umbrella brand for all publishers.

International participations and cooperations

From 2001 to 2012 there was a Barcelona- based joint venture between Random House and the Italian media group Arnoldo Mondadori Editore under the name Random House Mondadori , which supplied the Spanish and Latin American markets with book products under various publishing labels. The shares in Mondadori were bought by Bertelsmann in 2012 and the Spanish-language publishing group was incorporated into the newly created group under the new name Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial .


In 2013, Random House was accused of offering authors unfair contracts. Among other things, the American writers Victoria Strauss and John Scalzi criticized the payment in the form of a share in the turnover for Imprint Hydra . In addition, the company reserves the right to publish a hard cover , even if a work should appear in a pure e-book publisher. The organization of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America supported the position of the authors and made it clear that publications would not qualify for membership in the association under these conditions . The publisher was initially irritated by the assessment and stated that the remuneration model was "potentially lucrative" for the authors. However, Random House adjusted the contracts of Hydra , Alibi , Flirt and Loveswept accordingly, so that writers could choose between several models for calculating their fee, among other things. Victoria Strauss and others called this a "significant improvement".

Web links

Commons : Random House  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Edwin McDowell: Donald S. Klopfer dies at 84 . Co-Founder of Random House. In: The New York Times . May 31, 1986 ( nytimes.com [accessed March 21, 2014]).
  2. ^ Bernard McKenna: James Joyce's Ulysses: A Reference Guide . Greenwood, Westport 2002, ISBN 978-0-313-31625-8 , pp. 102 .
  3. ^ Gayle Feldman, Why Random and Penguin Must Merge - And When They Almost Did. In: The Daily Beast. September 11, 2012, accessed March 21, 2014 .
  4. ^ Alfred A. Knopf: Portrait of a Publisher 1915-1965 . Typophiles, New York 1965, ISBN 978-1-199-69478-2 .
  5. ^ Evan Brier: A Novel Marketplace . Mass Culture, the Book Trade, and Postwar American Fiction. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2011, ISBN 978-0-8122-4207-2 , pp. 131-132 .
  6. Simon Eliot, Jonathan Rose: A Companion to the History of the Book . John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4051-9278-1 .
  7. ^ Richard Guthrie: Publishing: Principles and Practice . Sage, Thousand Oaks 2011, ISBN 978-1-84787-015-5 , pp. 86 .
  8. a b c d Thomas Lehning: The media house . Past and present of the Bertelsmann group. Wilhelm Fink, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-7705-4035-2 .
  9. Kate Sheehan: The eBook Revolution . A Primer for Librarians on the Front Lines. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara 2013, pp. 49 .
  10. Laurie Pasiuk: Vault Guide to the Top Media & Entertainment Employers . Vault, New York 2005, pp. 225 .
  11. Sheldon Himelfarb: Book with Sauce . Publishing giants are killing literature. In: The time . No. 42 , 1988 ( zeit.de [accessed on March 21, 2014]).
  12. ^ Warren St. John: So Why Did Newhouse Sell Random House to Bertelsmann Boys? In: The New York Observer. March 30, 1988, accessed March 21, 2014 .
  13. Florian Rötzler: Bertelsmann buys Random House. In: heise online. March 23, 1998, accessed March 21, 2014 .
  14. Josh Getlin: What to Read Into Bertelsmann's acquisition of Random House? In: Los Angeles Times . January 24, 1999 ( latimes.com [accessed March 21, 2014]).
  15. Gunhild Freese: Rise to the bestseller . In: The time . No. 14 , 1998 ( zeit.de ).
  16. Middelhoff marketing machine . In: Der Spiegel . No. 44 , 1998 ( online ).
  17. Bertelsmann's rise to media power . In: Berliner Morgenpost . July 30, 2002 ( morgenpost.de [accessed March 12, 2014]).
  18. The history of the Random House publishing group. (No longer available online.) Random House Publishing Group, archived from the original on September 6, 2015 ; accessed on March 12, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.randomhouse.de
  19. Frank Wössner leaves Bertelsmann Executive Board / Random House umbrella brand reorganizes book business. In: BuchMarkt. March 27, 2001, accessed March 21, 2014 .
  20. Richard Lea: Random House accused of 'predatory' contracts for new ebook imprint. In: The Guardian. March 8, 2013, accessed March 22, 2014 .
  21. Suw Charman-Anderson: Beware Random House's Ebook Imprints. In: Forbes. March 10, 2013, accessed March 22, 2014 .
  22. Random House Responds to SFWA Slamming Its Hydra Imprint. In: Publishers Weekly . March 7, 2013, accessed March 22, 2014 .
  23. Random House Digital Imprints Offer Controversial Writer Contracts. In: The Huffington Post. March 8, 2013, accessed March 22, 2014 .
  24. ^ Graeme McMillan: Random House Rescinds Controversial E-Book Contract After Online Outrage. In: Wired. March 14, 2013, accessed March 22, 2014 .
  25. Random House Hydra, Alibi, Flirt, Loveswept Contracts Improved Following Writer Pressure. In: The Huffington Post. March 12, 2013, accessed March 22, 2014 .