Germany: Christian Jünger Named CEO of Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe

In News by Porter Anderson

PRH Verlagsgruppe’s incoming CEO Christian Jünger gets a warm introduction from Penguin Random House’s Nihar Malaviya.

Christian Jünger. Image: Penguin Random House, Frank Hanewacker

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

Malaviya: ‘The Importance of Books in Our Society’
In announcing today (July 9) from Munich his appointment of Christian Jünger to succeed Thomas Rathnow as CEO of Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe, PRH worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya has told the company’s staff that Jünger impressed him in a conversation with “how deeply and meaningfully he spoke about the importance of books in our society and our responsibility as publishers to launch diverse views into the world.

“For Christian, and for me,” Malaviya writes in his memo, “that’s achieved by elevating our creatives—authors and employees—and centering our imprints at the heart of our business. Our autonomous and independent publishers are in the best position to attract and acquire the greatest books, authors, and employee talent, especially when given the resources to flourish.”

Warm praise and gracious welcomes, of course, are hardly uncommon in international book publishing when major appointments are announced. But Malaviya has become well-known in the industry for his staunch support for the freedoms of expression, of reading, and of publishing, not unlike the stances taken by his own predecessor, Markus Dohle.

Nihar Malaviya

The personal connection he describes with Jünger is easily recognized as authentic from Malaviya, who last year sent a “Banned Wagon” unit as a “vehicle of change” to distribute banned books in several censorship-wracked spots in the American South then led Penguin Random House in November to sue the state of Iowa because a law there had meant, in the words of PRH’s associate general counsel Dan Novack, that “a 16-year-old student is old enough to consent to sex, but not old enough to read about it in school.”

Malaviya also relays to his worldwide staff that Jünger “joins us from Rowohlt Verlag (part of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group), where he has been the managing director since 2021. Christian will also join Penguin Random House’s global executive committee, the leadership board composed of the heads of the global support areas and the CEOs of each of Penguin Random House’s international divisions.”

Jünger: ‘The Passion for Books and Content’

Jünger began his career as the executive assistant to the CEO of Verlagsgruppe before advancing to a central role in Bertelsmann’s corporate development and growth regions team. Prior to his experience at Rowohlt, Jünger “gained significant expertise in the retail book sector at Amazon,” the company says in its main media messaging, “where he was head of vendor management.”

In a prepared statement, Jünger is quoted, saying, “I’m very excited to return to the place where my professional career began many years ago.

“With Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe, I associate an immense number of great authors, whose voices are heard not only in Germany, but around the world. Even more, I’m excited to shape the future of this publishing group in collaboration with [so] many dedicated colleagues. Above all, we all share the passion for books and content.

“I’m especially thankful to Nihar Malaviya for his trust in me.”

Until October 1, when Jünger is to take up his new post, Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe will continue to be managed on an interim basis by Britta Egetemeier and Thomas Pichler.

Jünger’s predecessor Rathnow was named to the leadership of Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe in November of 2018, to succeed CEO Frank Sambeth. Rathnow stepped down from his post in April, having previously withdrawn from his duties for personal reasons, PRH’s media messaging reminds us.

More from Publishing Perspectives on  Penguin Random House is here, more on Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe is here, more on book bannings is here, more on censorship in the broader context is here, more on the freedom to publish and freedom of expression is here, and more on leadership changes in the international book publishing industry 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.