Madeline McIntosh, head of Penguin Random House, resigns

On Tuesday, Penguin Random House announced the resignation of chief executive Madeline McIntosh. McIntosh has led Penguin Random House U.S. since 2018 and is considered one of the most influential figures in American publishing. McIntosh is the third senior executive to leave the company following the failed merger with Simon & Schuster in October.

Penguin Random House is by far the largest American book publisher and their attempt to buy Simon & Schuster — another Big Five Publisher (a term which refers to the five largest publishing houses in U.S. trade publishing) — was blocked in an antitrust trial. U.S. District Judge Florence Y. Pan ruled that the merger would hinder competition “in the market for U.S. publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books.”

According to economist Nicholas Hill’s testimony, the consolidation of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster would command a 49 percent market share which is more than double that of the HarperCollins (the next largest among the Big Five). This ruling had major implications for the company including a $200 million termination fee on top of expensive legal costs.

McIntosh says that the collapsed merger did not influence her decision, but that after its end she was ready to move on. In an interview, McIntosh said that while five years may not seem like long, it was “an intense five years.” She further explained, “Having the trial behind us, having new leadership in place, it’s a good time for all of us to pivot our way forward.”

McIntosh started her journey in publishing as a temporary assistant to a HarperCollins editor, until finding a position at Norton. In 1994, she began at Bantam Doubleday Dell and was recruited to join Random House in 2009. In her memo to the company, McInstosh said that she would not leave immediately but work with Nihar Malaviya, the interim chief executive of Penguin Random House, to facilitate a smooth transition.

While McIntosh has not decided what to do next, “What I’m really itching to do is to try something new and different,” she said.