Random House today announced a huge reorganization aimed at moving the company from its analog roots to its possible digital future. Details as to how this will affect the hydra-headed company's output aren't exactly clear, but there are some hints at intriguing new developments for digital publishing, including serialization, advertising, and subscriptions.
Following a surge in digital sales in the last half of 2009 (estimated at 400%), and the announcement of two new ebook readers in the Barnes & Noble Nook and (perhaps more importantly) the Apple iPad, Random House seems to be finally taking its digital business seriously. They're essentially moving executives who've been successful in digital into management positions overseeing new, digital-focused groups—for example, they've promoted Nina von Moltke from VP of Corporate Development to VP of Digital Publishing Development, lauding her "tremendous understanding of the evolving digital-publishing financial models to evaluating new corporate and divisional business opportunities." Von Moltke will also take control of the audiobooks department and that of Fodor's, the travel guide, both of which have been successful in digital.
In terms of specific developments for consumers, well, there aren't many yet. Amanda Close, who took charge of the team working on Apple-related plans after the announcement of the iPad and its accompanying iBooks store, is now VP of Digital Sales and Business Development. That's a pretty clear sign that Random House is going to make a major push with the iPad, but that's nothing we didn't already know. The announcement also commits Random House to continued work with the other major platforms in the digital publishing world, including Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Sony.
What does this mean for Random House? Will the digitization of the publisher's massive back catalog finally give iBooks or the Kindle store a better selection that my local used book shop? Who knows—what is clear is that Random House is positioning itself to take a hell of a swing at digital publishing.