Friday, February 21, 2014

R.I.P Bantam Bantam: The Consolidation of the Little Random Colophons.

Has everyone else been following the consolidation of the Little Random division colophons? It can be confusing to discuss this, as there is Random House the corporation, which is now Penguin Random House (at least temporarily) and then there is Random House the publishing division, which is the result of a consolidation of formerly independent publishing companies Random House, Ballantine, Bantam, and Dell**, plus a few assorted imprints like Modern Library, Villard, Delacorte and who knows, maybe Fawcett*, though I think that's been completely phased out. This is a business unit within the trade book division. I may have the exact terms wrong, but you get the picture.

I noticed it earlier in 2013 on a Ballantine Book, where the B was replaced by a Random House house. And this week I was shelving and spotted two Danielle Steel novels side by side, one with the Dell logo (a striped square developed during the BDD days) and one saying Dell but with a Random House logo.

Interestingly enough, Penguin tried this years ago, when we started seeing Penguins on Plume books. That initiative was eventually reversed, even though of late, the Penguin division of Penguin Random House has been trying to do some aggressive branding of the Penguin. The confusing thing about that is the initiative has generally covered all Penguin USA titles, including ones that are not branded Penguin.

And all this makes me think, what exactly is the corporate logo in five years of Penguin Random House? Can you imagine a Penguin or a house replacing a Borzoi? How about King Penguin (Crowned, of course) racing a Borzoi and a chicken (a Bantam) towards the Random House. And while I don't have much to say about the Ballantine B or the Dell Square, I was quite fond of the Bantam chicken. I double-checked the new Peculiar Crimes novel from Christopher Fowler, The Invisible Code, and if any book would have the Bantam logo, it would be a book from Christopher Fowler, but alas, it's now been carved up and being served at Random House. Rest in peace, Bantam chicken (or as some of you might refer to it, Bantam bantam).

*Fawcett was for a while owned by CBS, which currently owns Simon and Schuster. That said, that CBS is sort of a different corporation, just like Macmillan, which owns Holt, which was also owned by CBS, is the former Holtzbrinck, which acquired US rights to the Macmillan name.

**Correction! It is my inclination (my brain first wrote "implication") to group the old Bertelsman publishing operation Bantam Doubleday Dell together, but when the divisions were folded, Bantam and Dell moved to Random House, while Doubleday went to Knopf, and Broadway and Currency, which aren't even mentioned here, went to Crown.


John Cooper said...

It's a bit sad to refer to the Bantam logo (R.I.P.) as a "chicken"—like calling a fierce bull a "cow." The logo was of a bantam rooster, walking proud. It's how I learned the word "bantam," and it adorned the spines of how many of the excellent paperbacks I devoured in the 1970s I cannot count. Its departure reminds me ominously of the demise of Marshall Field's, an excellent regional department store overpowered and replaced by a national mediocrity.

Daniel Goldin said...

My apologies! I'll be more respectful, but a bantam is a chicken, much like a borzoi is a doggy. At least I didn't call it a hen!