Big changes at “constipated and hiccupy” Penguin UK

Heads are rolling at Penguin UK. Reuters reports:

The head of Penguin Group’s operations, Anthony Forbes Watson, has left the company after 15 years following recent struggles at the publisher.

“His departure follows genuine differences of view on the way forward for the Penguin and Dorling Kindersley businesses,” Penguin Chairman and CEO John Makinson wrote in a note to staff.

John Sutherland recently recapped the highlights of the publisher’s “disastrous year” in the Guardian:

Last spring the imprint’s super-agglomerated parent group, Pearson, brought on-stream its new, airport-sized warehouse at Rugby. The computer operating system, predictably, crashed. They always do. From April to June the system stayed obstinately down. Penguin books were scarcer than Penguin’s teeth. Delivery, almost a year later, is still constipated and hiccupy.

The firm’s profits and share price have been hit. High-profile authors (Anthony Beevor at their head) have requested compensation for what they see as trade negligence. Penguin is resisting. Letters of explanation have been sent out, but no compensation.


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