The publishing world, from Barral to Dohle

The publishing world, from Barral to Dohle

Could it be possible that a new Carlos Barral exists today, in this world of large groups and editorial concentration? his grandson Malcolm Otero Barral asked himself on Monday in the first of the two days of homage that the ACEC paid him.

The Collegiate Association of Writers of Catalonia, very active under the presidency of David Castillo, wanted to remember the figure of the poet-editor (1928-1989), increased over time.

With Otero and Carme Riera we discussed the unusual brilliance of his period at Seix Barral (1950-1970), where he knew how to turn a technical publishing house into a humanistic one, a banner of literary and graphic modernity; he created the Biblioteca Breve collection, where he published the new European batch, with figures such as Italo Svevo or Robbe Grillet, and later the Biblioteca Breve award, promoting a new generation of left-wing Spanish authors such as Luis Goytisolo or Juan García Hortelano; He sponsored the Spanish-American narrative boom and set up a great network of European literary publishing, recruiting Gallimard, Einaudi, Weidenfield or Rowholt for the International Formentor prize…


Carlos Barral, editor and navigator,

Third parties

Few figures are as legendary in recent Spanish cultural life as his. Dressed as a sailor, with a cap and several pipes hanging from his pockets, or wrapped in a cape through the bourgeois neighborhoods of upper Barcelona, ​​he was undoubtedly a character who stood out.

A pioneer in so many areas, would a Carlos Barral be possible today? Who knows. Possibly at that time -post-war, Francoism, a weakened publishing world, a Spain with very little international connection- a figure of his characteristics was not expected or seemed too possible, and yet he appeared.

In front of the literary editor, the managing editor. And one of the most prominent in recent times has been the German Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, the book division of the Bertelsmann group, which has 250 stamps worldwide and publishes 15,000 new titles every year.

Dohle has frequently visited Barcelona, ​​confesses that he is in love with Sant Jordi and, also a tennis lover, has enjoyed the Godó trophy. In 2018 we talked within the framework of the Edita Forum. A day in July to remember, since the air conditioning in the Sert room of the Barcelona City Hall did not work, and both Dohle and I ended up in our shirtsleeves, drenched.

The sympathetic and overwhelming German then stated that the book sector was experiencing its best moment in the last 50 years, celebrated the stable model of the book on paper (80% of its sales) and explained the decentralized operation of its international division “as a great community of small publishers”.

⁄ The CEO of Penguin Random House, with a brilliant career, has taken its toll on the failure of a merger

Dohle has been valued for his contribution to the growth of the group, which has quintupled profits; his good guardianship of the Random merger with Penguin, and his pacts with Amazon. In 2015, she was honored by PEN America for her “commitment to defending freedom of expression and access to literature.”

But another ambitious merger attempt has taken its toll, this time with the Simon & Schuster group, denied by American courts for antitrust reasons and forcing Bertelsmann to pay $200 million to its owner, Paramount Global, for breach of the agreement. shopping. Dohle, 54, who had been in the post since 2008 (an unusually long period), tendered his resignation and will be succeeded by chief operating officer Nihar Malaviya. “We regret Markus Dohle’s decision to leave Penguin Random House,” said Christopher Mohn, Chairman of the Bertelsmann Supervisory Board.

On the eve of Christmas, Spanish publishers celebrate the good level of post-pandemic sales while a part of the sector in Catalonia suffers from the problems of the new distributor Entredos, which have hurt several labels.

In the field of bookstores, the (moderate) price increases of some books and (less moderate) of services such as electricity cast shadows, which were discussed during a multidisciplinary meeting at the +Bernat, where under the tutelage of Mario Tascón challenges and opportunities of these spaces were addressed.

and in the supplement Cultures, We greet Christmas like every year with an extensive invitation to read. We hope you find it pleasant and useful.

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