Madeline McIntosh Is Stepping Down As Head of Country’s Largest Book Publisher

From a Wall Street Journal story by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg headlined “CEO of Penguin Random House U.S., Country’s Largest Book Publisher, Steps Down”:

Madeline McIntosh said she is stepping down as chief executive of Penguin Random House U.S., the third senior executive to leave the country’s largest consumer book publisher in the past two months.

Ms. McIntosh will remain in place until Nihar Malaviya, interim CEO of Bertelsmann SE’s Penguin Random House, establishes a new corporate leadership structure, she said in an interview.

Ms. McIntosh, a popular figure in publishing circles who steered Penguin Random House U.S. through the recent Covid-19 pandemic and championed a more inclusive company, is leaving as the publisher has seen its U.S. market share decline.

Penguin Random House commanded 20.7% of the U.S. book market in 2022, far ahead of No. 2 HarperCollins Publishers, which had 10.8%, according to book tracker NPD BookScan. Five years ago, Penguin Random House’s market share was 22.2%. HarperCollins Publishers, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp.

When asked about market share, Ms. McIntosh said barriers to entry have gone down as online bookselling has increased, leading to more competitors. “That’s healthy,” she said.

A veteran publishing figure, Ms. McIntosh joined the company that became Penguin Random House in 1994. She later left in 2008 to work for Amazon.com Inc. in Luxembourg, returning after 18 months as president of sales, operations and digital at what was then Random House Inc. She was named to her current post in April 2018.

“I’ve been in this job longer than any single job since college,” said Ms. McIntosh, 53 years old. “I’ve packed in a lot, and it’s the right time for me and for the company to have a change. I’m eager to learn new things and challenge myself in different ways.”

In a memo she plans to send to staffers on Tuesday morning, Ms. McIntosh said she had decided that the time was right for a break. “I don’t think CEOs should stay in their seats forever,” she wrote.

Penguin Random House, which recently published memoirs by former first lady Michelle Obama and Prince Harry, lost a highly publicized trial last fall when a federal judge blocked it from acquiring rival Simon & Schuster on competitive grounds.

Paramount Global, which owns Simon & Schuster, in late November terminated its sales agreement with Penguin Random House and received a $200 million termination fee.

A few weeks later, Markus Dohle resigned as chief executive of Penguin Random House, stating in a memo to staffers that he had decided to step down following the antitrust decision after 15 years in the role.

“I’ve been frustrated with our market share development,” Mr. Dohle testified during the trial. “We lost market share almost of the size of Simon & Schuster since the merger,” referring to Random House’s merger with Penguin in 2013. Mr. Dohle couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mr. Dohle was succeeded by Mr. Malaviya, then president and chief operating officer of Penguin Random House U.S., as interim chief executive. Until his promotion, Mr. Malaviya had reported to Ms. McIntosh.

Following Mr. Dohle’s departure, Gina Centrello, president and publisher of the Random House Publishing Group, announced her retirement. The 63-year-old Ms. Centrello, whose group publishes such authors as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glennon Doyle and Ina Garten, was named head of the group in 2003. Ms. Centrello will serve as strategic adviser to a board consisting of senior Penguin Random House U.S. executives, the company said.

Jeffrey Trachtenberg covers the book industry and is part of the Journal’s Media and Marketing Bureau in New York. During his tenure on the beat, he’s written about the rise of Amazon as the world’s dominant book retailer, the struggles of Barnes & Noble to reinvent itself for the e-commerce era, and consolidation among the biggest publishers as they try to maintain leverage in a changing industry.

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