Frankfurt: PRH’s Nihar Malaviya Headlines Publishing Perspectives Forum

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The 2023 Publishing Perspectives Forum opens with an onstage conversation with Penguin Random House CEO Nihar Malaviya.

Nihar Malaviya. Image: Penguin Random House, Charlotte Lesnick

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Nihar Malaviya in an Exclusive Executive Talk
In its second year at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22), the Publishing Perspectives Forum will be headlined by Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya, in the forum-opening Executive Talk–a point being announced today by Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos.

Set for 10 a.m. on Frankfurt Wednesday, October 18, Malaviya’s onstage conversation will be the first chance for many international trade visitors to hear from Malaviya, the affable, witty, and well-spoken chief of the world’s largest publishing company.

More programming details will be appearing in coming days and weeks as we release them here.

While new initiatives and Malaviya’s viewpoint on the world industry will of course be key to the discussion–the development of the company’s new highly internationalized Inklore imprint in the comics sector was announced at the end of June–the year holds many challenges for Penguin Random House, as for many publishing companies facing the intensifying dynamic of artificial intelligence and rising costs that have led to downsizing moves in the United States’ PRH divisions. These staffing adjustments form what some are describing as the end of an era in the corporate and editorial makeup of the company.

Hillel Italie at the Associated Press was the first to report 10 days ago that some of the best-known faces of the publisher’s highly regarded senior staff and leadership scheduled are to depart this autumn, resulting from buyouts and layoffs–reportedly about 60–following the earlier exits of Markus Dohle, whom Malaviya has succeeded, and the former PRH-USA CEO Madeline McIntosh.

Publishers Lunch‘s Michael Cader may have been the first to single out Malaviya’s line in his message to the staff about results of the “voluntary separation offer” for veterans and the eliminations of some positions: “We long sought to avoid these actions, but unfortunately could not do so,” Malaviya wrote. “This was the hardest decision I have had to make as a leader.”

That’s reflective of the warm personality that Malaviya brings to his role as a chief executive steeped in the importance and value of data in the world book publishing industry, and a person whose conversation readily gives way to wry, friendly laughs.

As worldwide CEO of Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House, Malaviya has responsibilities for the company’s more-than 300 imprints which span 21 nations on six continents. A key focus for him is elevating the publishing independence and creative autonomy of PRH’s imprints, and driving competitive advantages to position the company for growth. As part of that growth strategy, the company notes, Malaviya is also advancing Penguin Random House’s diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments and sustainability goals.

Throughout his 20-year tenure in publishing–beginning with his participation in the Bertelsmann Entrepreneurs Program–Malaviya has spearheaded the creation of a variety of industry-first capabilities in data science, supply chain, technology, and consumer insights, as well as collaborating with colleagues around the world, something he was doing by 2019 as president and COO of PRH-USA.

Malaviya is a member of the board of Yale University press and lives with his family in New Jersey.

More Executives in the Program

While we have much more to announce, today we’ll also mention that on Frankfurt Thursday, October 19, our 10 a.m. Executive Talk will feature one of the most comprehensively positioned publishers in Asia, Kim Chongsatitwantana, CEO of Thailand’s NanmeeBooks, which straddles programs in publishing, innovation, services, and “learning space.”

Born in Bangkok and trained in industrial and operational engineering and the University of Michigan, Chongsatitwantana followed the publishing house’s founder–her mother, Suwadee–in taking on the leadership of a publishing and training program that today fields as many as 300 employees.

And Peter Warwick, CEO of Scholastic, familiar to many of our readers, will be with us as part of a focused sequence of events in a mini-conference set on the afternoon of Frankfurt Wednesday.

Thursday, in fact, features a mini-conference on audio presented in association with Bookwire, and on Frankfurt Friday, October 20, a scholarly and academic publishing program is being offered by the forum in cooperation with Charleston Conference.

More details are to follow here, and on the Publishing Perspectives Forum page. All sessions of the Publishing Perspectives Forum will be held again in the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center’s tree-lined Room Spektrum on Level 2. Admission is free to Frankfurt trade visitors and exhibitors.

At the 2022 Publishing Perspectives Forum, Messe Frankfurt Congress Center Room Spektrum. Image: Publishing Perspectives

More on Publishing Perspectives Forum is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on international book fairs is here, and more on Penguin Random House is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.