Pen­guin Ran­dom House Canada’s new CEO named

The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - REPORT ON BUSINESS - SI­MON HOUPT

Cochrane is al­ready widely re­garded as the most pow­er­ful per­son in Cana­dian pub­lish­ing

The coun­try’s dominant book pub­lisher is shuf­fling its ex­ec­u­tive ranks next month, with the long-time CEO of Pen­guin Ran­dom House Canada, Brad Martin, leav­ing the com­pany to make way for his heir ap­par­ent, Kristin Cochrane.

Ms. Cochrane, who was named pres­i­dent and pub­lisher of Pen­guin Ran­dom House Canada in 2015, will add the job of chief ex­ec­u­tive to her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. A staff an­nounce­ment from Markus Dohle, CEO of Pen­guin Ran­dom House World­wide, noted she would also join the com­pany’s global ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

A vo­ra­cious reader, Ms. Cochrane was al­ready widely re­garded as the most pow­er­ful per­son in Cana­dian pub­lish­ing. The de­mands of the new job, which over­sees sales, fi­nance, op­er­a­tions, hu­man re­sources, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, mar­ket­ing and pub­lic­ity, as well as pub­lish­ing pro­grams, may make it more dif­fi­cult for her to work di­rectly with au­thors, as she en­joys do­ing.

“Kristin is an ex­cep­tional pub­lisher, with a keen un­der­stand­ing of what books will mat­ter to read­ers, both now and in the fu­ture,” said Rania Husseini, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of print at re­tailer Indigo, said in a state­ment sent to The Globe and Mail. “Her pas­sion for books and read­ing is clear to any­one who meets her. Indigo has had a deep and long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Kristin and we are de­lighted for her as she takes on this new role.”

Mr. Martin leaves as the Cana­dian divi­sion of Pen­guin Ran­dom House comes off a se­ries of crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cesses. Five of the 12 nom­i­nees on the long list for last year’s Giller Prize were PRH Canada au­thors, as was the even­tu­ally win­ner, Michael Red­hill (for Belle­vue Square).

The Hand­maid’s Tale, Mar­garet At­wood’s dystopian novel that is on the com­pany’s back­list, has been fly­ing off the shelves, pro­pelled by a crit­i­cally ac­claimed TV adap­ta­tion. And PRH Canada is en­joy­ing an un­likely boost to its bot­tom line as the sup­plier to the Amer­i­can mar­ket of the in­ter­net phe­nom Jor­dan Peter­son’s 12 Rules For Life, af­ter no U.S. pub­lisher picked up the book.

In ad­di­tion to the legacy Pen­guin and Ran­dom House im­prints, PRH Canada brands in­clude Hamish Hamil­ton, Allen Lane, McClel­land & Ste­wart, Vin­tage and Vik­ing. Its au­thors are a Who’s Who of Cana­dian lit­er­ary pub­lish­ing, among them Michael On­daatje, Omar El Akkad, Mar­garet At­wood, Michael Red­hill, Madeleine Thien, Sean Michaels, Padma Viswanathan, and Jann Ar­den, whose me­moir, Feed­ing My Mother, is a cur­rent Globe and Mail best­seller.

The com­pany did not make any ei­ther Mr. Martin or Ms. Cochrane avail­able for com­ment, and de­clined a re­quest from The Globe to speak with Mr. Dohle, who flew in to Toronto from New York to ad­dress lo­cal em­ploy­ees about the changes.

Mr. Martin, who re­tires on June 30, has been in the busi­ness for 37 years, work­ing his way up from sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive at McClel­land & Ste­wart in 1981 to the top po­si­tion at Pen­guin Canada in 1996. Later mov­ing to Ban­tam Dou­ble­day Canada, which merged with Ran­dom House, he be­came CEO of Ran­dom House Canada in 2007. When the world­wide op­er­a­tions of Ber­tels­mann’s Ran­dom House and Pear­son PLC’s Pen­guin Group were merged in 2013, Mr. Martin re­mained in the top job of the com­bined com­pany’s Cana­dian divi­sion.

“He’s been spec­tac­u­larly good at what he does,” said Dean Cooke, an agent who pre­vi­ously worked with Mr. Martin at Dou­ble­day Canada, and whose per­sonal clients in­clude John Irv­ing, Cherie Di­ma­line, Lorinda Ste­wart and Robert Mun­sch.

“One of the things I was al­ways im­pressed by was his fa­cil­ity with num­bers. You could ask him about a book 20 years ago, and he would tell you how many copies it had sold. Some­body with that depth of knowl­edge is not eas­ily re­placed.”

Mr. Cooke sug­gested that among Ms. Cochrane’s pri­mary chal­lenges will be the roil­ing re­tail land­scape, with Indigo as the dominant legacy player in Canada likely to face in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from Ama­zon. He noted that large play­ers such as Pen­guin Ran­dom House may be bet­ter off in such an en­vi­ron­ment. “If you want to go into a ne­go­ti­a­tion with an Ama­zon, you need to be big or you’re go­ing to get slapped around.”

Kristin is an ex­cep­tional pub­lisher, with a keen un­der­stand­ing of what books will mat­ter to read­ers, both now and in the fu­ture. RANIA HUSSEINI EX­EC­U­TIVE VICE-PRES­I­DENT OF PRINT AT INDIGO


Out­go­ing Pen­guin Ran­dom House Canada CEO Brad Martin, left, is seen with his suc­ces­sor, PRH Canada pres­i­dent and pub­lisher Kristin Cochrane, in Toronto in 2015. Mr. Martin is set to re­tire on June 30.

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