Quill and Quire

Industry news

« Back to

Surprise replacement found for Random House boss

A replacement for Peter Olson, who recently stepped down “ or was pushed, depending on who you talk to “ from his post as Random House U.S. CEO, has been found. The New York Times reports that the German media conglomerate, Bertelsmann, handed the reigns over to Markus Dohle, the head of its printing press. Apparently, experience was not a prerequisite.

The appointment of Mr. Dohle, 39, an outsider to the publishing industry, is likely to rattle insiders at Random House and comes at a time when both Random House and the wider publishing industry are suffering from a slowdown.

The appointment of Mr. Dohle is Bertelsmann’s most significant move since Hartmut Ostrowski took over as chief executive of the company in January.

Mr. Olson, who worked for Bertelsmann for 20 years, had been under pressure due to financial difficulties in the industry and within the company.

Mr. Olson’s position was not helped by a weak performance in 2007, when the weakening dollar and lackluster consumer spending drove down sales at Random House by 5.6 percent. Operating profits declined 4.9 percent, despite a run of bestsellers that included Playing for Pizza by John Grisham and Women & Money by Suze Orman.