Two of the hottest publishing labels in English language are coming together to create the world's biggest consumer publisher, with significant implications for India.
UK-based Penguin, owned by the Pearson Group and Random House, part of the Bertelsmann group, announced on Monday a joint venture to take on the challenges of digital technology that has spawned e-books and online stores, such as Amazon and Flipkart, offering cut-price deals.
Both have sizeable operations in India, covering a host of authors, with large-sized editorial staff and matching business ambitions.
The JV, Penguin Random House, in which the Germany-based Bertelsmann will own 53% and Pearson the remainder, apparently pipped a bid by media baron Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, whose stable includes rival Harper Collins.
With sales of 1.5 billion pounds (R12,979 crore), Random House's sales are more than that of Penguin, whose sales are around 1 billion pounds. However, in India, Penguin has larger operations, with authors including Arundhati Roy and the Dalai Lama under its belt, thanks to its 25-year-old operations in the country.
Though it arrived in India only in 2005, Random House's big names include Salman Rushdie, Deepak Chopra and EL James, author of this year's hit, "Fifty Shades of Grey".
"Between us, we make two of the strongest players in this market. The joint venture company will certainly have far more resources for developing consumer publishing platforms in India," said Andrew Sullivan, Penguin India's CEO.
Gaurav Shrinagesh, managing director, Random House India, said it was too early to comment on the ramifications of the JV for India, with regulatory approvals yet to come.
The JV comes to Penguin as it marks its Silver Jubilee year in India.