Frankfurt’s Publishing Perspectives Forum: Executive Talks

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Insights: PRH CEO Nihar Malaviya and Thai CEO Kim Chongsatitwana are featured in our PP Forum Executive Talks.

Nihar Malaviya and Kim Chongsatitwana. Images: Penguin Random House and Nanmeebooks

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

Two Industry CEOs: One Business, Different Worlds
On Frankfurt Wednesday and Thursday, October 18 and 19, our Publishing Perspectives Forum will be led by our customary Executive Talks.

We’re particularly glad to offer onstage conversations that feature the chief executives of two unique and profoundly distinctive publishing companies. Each holds a place of real distinction and importance in its own milieu, but it’s right there that the contrasts begin to surface.

The context and position of Penguin Random House’s 240-country reach, after all, is the closest that any trade publishing company in the world today comes to being universal.

Bangkok’s Nanmeebooks reveals to us a well-established, longtime publishing presence with close to 200 employees in a politically turbulent Thailand.

We hope you’ll want to join us for the compelling insights that the articulate leaders of both these companies bring to our stage.

Penguin Random House CEO Nihar Malaviya

Wednesday, October 18
10 to 10:45 a.m.

The news in mid-September that Bertelsmann’s Thomas Rabe had announced Nihar Malaviya to be the new permanent worldwide CEO of Penguin Random House, confirmed for many the efficacy of decisive moves many had been watching during the earlier months of Malaviya’s interim leadership following Markus Dohle’s departure.

As Rabe wrote in his announcement from Gütersloh, Malaviya “has transformed the structures at Penguin Random House so that the publishers and publishing groups can work more creatively and entrepreneurially.” In addition, Rabe observed, “Malaviya has spearheaded the creation of a number of industry-first capabilities in data science, supply chain, technology, and consumer  insights.

The objective,” Rabe writes, “was always to reach the widest possible audience for the company’s authors and their books across multiple formats and platforms.”

In our conversation with Malaviya—the first chance for many in the industry to hear him speak—we’ll ask him to bring the analytical acuity that many praise in his approach to bear on today’s frequently uncertain marketplace: What is he seeing in the global macroeconomic environment? And how does he perceive PRH’s strategy in light of these market developments?

There are content and category developments in markets to be addressed, along with insights into how they change overtime.

In an era when the political context can seem to surround so much of what publishing is and does, we’ll expect to touch on book banning and censorship, as well as the challenges and promise of diversity, equity, and inclusion at PRH and in the industry.

In August, as Penguin Random House rolled out an extensive resources kit for those encountering censorship, Malaviya wrote, “The acceleration of book bannings, challenges, and related legislation sweeping across the country is a direct threat to democracy and our constitutional rights. Diverse stories deserve to be told, and readers deserve the autonomy to choose what books they read.”

With artificial intelligence so top-of-mind for so many, it, too, will come into play among developments defining the industry’s shape and shifts today.

We hope you’ll consider starting your 2023 Frankfurt Book Fair schedule with this headline event in which we hear from the leader of one of the world’s most influential trade publishing forces at a time when the mission of the industry seems more evident by the day.

Nanmeebooks CEO Kim Chongsatitwana

Thursday, October 19
10 to 10:45 a.m.

She is the daughter of the founder of one of the most impactful publishers and learning-service providers in Thailand.

Kim Chongsatitwana, born in Bangkok, confesses that at times, she has worried that some might think she was less capable than Suwadee, her mother, who created the company in 1992. But even under protracted economic difficulties—we’ll talk about what’s happening in library business—Chongsatitwana has maintained and grown a staff of almost 200. Nanmeebooks publishes some 300 new titles annually, with up to 90 percent of them licensed and 80 percent published for young readers in a market that has a population of 71 million people.

Some of the initiatives instituted for the company by this publishing executive trained in industrial operations and engineering are the Nanmeebooks Innovation Institute, founded in 2013 to offer a “Science Experiment Classroom,” a “Math-Whiz” specialization in AI-based online offering, a Kiddy Intelligence Center for kindergarten-level work, and a major program of teacher training events and camps.

Kim Chongsatitwana’s publishing company runs Thailand’s Rain Tree Residence, a resort dedicated both to literature and to an understanding of life lived in an honored and beautiful terrain.

Much of this has led to Chongsatitwana being made a board member of the Little Scientists House” under the patronage of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and her foundation, with professional development in STEM education for teachers in almost 30,000 kindergartens each year. Her company is so dedicated to environmental consciousness and the science youngsters need to understand it that Nanmeebooks runs Thailand’s Rain Tree Residence, a resort dedicated both to literature and to an understanding of life lived in an honored and beautiful terrain.

Chongsatitwana has a message for her professional colleagues at Frankfurt: “Partnership. I don’t want to feel like I’m ‘just a licensee’ or a customer. When we license books, we want to take care of them  We want to learn from our fellow publishers how to take care of them. properly. So a partnership of sharing marketing materials or the concept behind it.”

Chongsatitwana’s idea is that working together, publishers who trade in each other’s content can together do more with and for that content and its authors if they share the original publisher’s knowledge of a given title and then “share back” the experiences of licensees in what works on the market.

“I want to be partners,” says Kim Chongsatitwana, “so we all can learn from each other.”

As last year, the Publishing Perspectives Forum is set in the bright, tree-lined Room Spektrum on Level 2 of the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center.  The best approach is often to use the Hall 5-1 elevated walkway to reach the Congress Center. Feel free to arrive late and/or leave early for a session as you handle your schedule.

This article is from our Publishing Perspectives Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which will be available free of charge in print throughout Frankfurter Buchmesse—and in a digital edition (also free) here on our news site—on October 18 as Buchmesse opens. 

Our Publishing Perspectives Frankfurt Book Fair magazine, releases October 18

The magazine has previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.

There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.”

More on the Forum and its programming is here, with information on our speakers and their appearances. All programming is open free to Frankfurt trade visitors and exhibitors. 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.