Random House & Imprints (Are they getting ready to shed them?)

Eoin Purcell

Call me crazy but . . .
I don’t pretend to be privy to anything that goes on at Random House UK but I was searching through their rather excellent new online bookstore: rbooks, can you find their imprints listed there? I can’t. Which is odd because for all the books listed on their front page and deeper (for example: Wicked by Jilly Cooper), Amazonlists the imprint.

Sure, you can find the list of their imprints on their home-page but you have to know they exist and click a menu drop down to go to them and helpfully they offer an explanation for those who don’t know what an imprint is:

Each imprint has a slightly different publishing philosophy. Most imprints publish either hardback or paperback editions, so the same title usually appears under two different imprints. For instance John Grisham is published by the imprints Century and Arrow which are both part of Random House.


The lack of positioning for the imprints on the retail site is important because it reflects the reality both of the book-selling trade (I guarantee that Waterstones, Borders and Foyles shelve by category and not by Publisher) and the customer experience (few readers care what imprint publishes their book, though for sure some might know the better known houses they will not know the endless sub-divisions of the giants).It also makes perfect sense. The books are what are important not the imprints. And rbooks does a lovely job of displaying Random’s books.

Am I getting ahead of myself?
Maybe they don’t plan to phase them out and rbooks is in its infancy so they may simply be learning lessons critical to online selling (Though they seem to ignore the discounting policy so prevalent at Amazon.co.uk eg Pig Island).

Maybe they have thought about it and see the benefits. I’d advise them to read Michael Hyatt’s assessment of the Thomas Nelson moves in the recent past as further support for doing away with them. All in all, I hope they do eradicate their imprints. Despite the many proud names that might disappear, book publishing would be stronger and better for it I am sure.

Thinking heady thoughts