Penguin Random House Launches Discovery-Focused Website

Penguin Random House direct-to-consumer ebook publisherIt was said back in January that 2015 would be the year of the customer, with publishers thinking afresh about how to build direct relationships with readers.

And sure enough, Penguin Random House today launches a new website that greatly expands its consumer-facing marketing and discovery efforts.

As CEO Markus Dohle put it in a letter to staff this morning, Penguin Random House’s “digital presence is an important part of strengthening this connection that we are building: one author, one book, and one reader at a time.”

PenguinRandomHouse.com displays all the publisher’s titles, deemphasizing individual imprints. In addition to distinct book, author and genre-specific “category” pages, the site also features a blog called The Perch similar in spirit to other editorially driven discovery efforts, like the publisher’s site for parents called Brightly or Oyster’s The Oyster Review. The Perch is aimed at encouraging direct engagement with readers with “shareable reading challenges, book bingo, historic highlights and frequent peeks behind-the-scenes at our company,” according to an announcement this morning.

The new site is mobile responsive across a range of devices (good timing considering that Google’s long-planned algorithm change to prioritize mobile-optimized sites went live yesterday) and was built in-house by Penguin Random House developers.

Many readers aren’t accustomed to visiting publishers’ websites in order to find book-related content or learn about new titles. Penguin Random House is launching targeted marketing and advertising campaigns to help make consumers aware of the new site and to cultivate those relationships on an ongoing basis.

While PenguinRandomHouse.com directs users to the major retailers in order to purchase titles, there’s no indication the site will ever sell titles directly to customers, as HarperCollins began doing last summer; Dohle’s letter says the publisher’s main objective with the website is to “bring our authors’ books to life, build communities around them, and provide unmatched reach to readers around the globe.”

Still, Penguin Random House has shown keen interest lately in expanding the distribution channels for its content, first by partnering with Oyster on a new a la carte ebookstore and then by adding 9,000 digital audiobooks to Scribd’s subscription-based catalog just weeks later.

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