Introducing Your Publishing World Cup “Dream Team”

In Guest Contributors by Roger Tagholm

Who would you have on a book business World Cup dream team? Who would you place up front? On the bench? As manager? We humbly submit our own selections.

Penguin Soccer Dream Team

By Roger Tagholm

Penguin is having a lot of fun speculating who would make up the best literary football squads around the globe. You can enjoy the fun here:

But what about our own fine industry? Who would you have in a book business dream team? Who would you place up front? Who would you have on the bench? Who would you have as manager?

As the final of the World Cup draws closer, here is a suggestion, with a guide to their form below:

Goalkeeper: C Redmayne
Back four: A Muhammad, S Hicks, E Huang, J Sargent
Midfield three: M Pietsch, J. Bezos, A Wylie
Front three: YS Chi, M Dohle, A Nourry

Our Selections for the Book Industry Dream Team

Charlie Redmayne, standing 6' 5" and one of the few former military men to run a publishing house, would be an intimidating presence in the net.

Charlie Redmayne, standing 6’5″ and one of the few former military men to run a publishing house, would be an intimidating presence in the net.

Manager, Sergey Brin, Google: The co-founder of the world’s most famous search engine is always looking for new challenges, and this partly explains his decision to manage the book industry’s first, global soccer team. Reports suggest that while some of the team are happy to wear Google glasses during training sessions, they have all point blank refused to travel in the driverless Google coach.

Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins UK, Goalkeeper At 6’ 5”, Redmayne is the obvious choice for keeper, being able to save most shots without actually moving. His previous position as Head of Commercial Partnerships at Sky means he has also been able to secure lucrative broadcasting deals for the team, while his time at Pottermore suggests a digital version of book industry squad may yet appear on the PlayStation platform before long.

Amir Muhammad, Fixi, Malaysia, Left back: The winner of the Bookseller International Adult Trade Publisher Award in April at the inaugural London Book Fair International Book Industry Excellence Awards, Muhammad has made his mark in a short space of time, having only founded Fixi three years ago. Some say the name of his company is unfortunate in light of recent sporting scandals, but there’s no doubt that Muhammad is very adapt at translating loose balls into winning opportunities.

Sophie Hicks, agent, UK, Centre back: The only woman in the team and a very sharp operator, usually able to talk the opposition into allowing her a higher percentage of possession. She recently left Ed Victor United to strike out on her own, taking with her children’s author Eoin Colfer. And yes, she has heard all the ‘Artemis Foul’ jokes already, thank you very much.

Eric Huang, Made in Me, USA, Centre back:  Now resident in the UK, Yang has wide international experience, including time with Disney in the US and Penguin in Australia. He is currently working on an app for the team that will predict set-plays – if they can just persuade FIFA to allow mobiles on to the pitch.

John Sargent, Macmillan USA, Right back: One of the fittest players in the squad, thanks to all that time on his legendary exercise bike, Sargent is famous for taking brave stances and going his own way. He famously suggested the move to a new model for the selling of players, but was forced to back down after no one followed suit.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, USA, Left midfield: Undoubtedly. one of the most controversial selections, Bezos has been included because of his immense Fire power. Some say he shouldn’t be in the team at all because at one time or another he has fallen out with the other companies represented on the pitch, but there’s no doubting that the fans love what he does.  

Michael Pietsch, Hachette, USA, Centre midfield: Talking of those Bezos has fallen out with, Michael Pietsch from Hachette finds himself right next to the man in question in mid-field. Manager Brin believes the resulting creative tension benefits the team, but at the moment Bezos has de-listed all Pietsch’s set-play suggestions from his laptop.

Andrew Wylie, agent, USA, Right midfield: Some say Wylie is a troublemaker, someone who spends his whole time trying to persuade members of the opposition to play for his team. Others point to the business alliance he has recently formed with the Spanish agent Carmen Balcells and say it seems likely that some European talent will come into the squad before long as a result.

YS Chi, Elsevier, Korea, Centre forward: Younsuk Chi’s sobriquet ‘YS’ is often echoed by the England team as they trudge off the field after another World Cup exit. “Y us?” Chi brings a truly global perspective to the game, but his words aren’t always welcome. Last year he told delegates at the UK Publishers Association’s International Conference in London: “We are perceived as relics from another era, as dinosaurs. We are not seen as the guardians of culture, but the greedy gatekeepers of knowledge. The majority of people do not know what publishers actually do.” That last remark saw Bezos guffaw.  

Marcus Dohle, Penguin Random House, Germany, Centre forward (Captain): As the leader of the world’s largest book publisher, Dohle is a commanding presence wherever he is on the field. Many have pointed out that he looks like a European football manager, with the bilingual skills, air of sophistication and rugged good looks that go with it. Of course, the UK’s own Roy Hodgson has the linguistic skills too, and…well, we’ll leave it there.

Arnaud Nourry, Hachette, France, Centre forward: France’s leading publisher has a different attitude to the game to most. He believes in fixed passing and government intervention in any disputes. Also, he can’t make training this Wednesday because it’s the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Paris Taxi Drivers and there’s a public holiday.

Denise Cote, US District Judge, USA (Substitute): Controversially chosen by Brin as an honorary member of the book trade many of the team are angered by her inclusion in the squad and have refused to play alongside her. Hence her position on the bench.

Now for your choices…

About the Author

Roger Tagholm


Roger Tagholm is based in London and has been writing about the book industry for more than 20 years. He is the former Deputy Editor of Publishing News and the author of Walking Literary London (New Holland) and Poems NOT on the Underground (Windrush Press).