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Penguin Group

A Profile of Penguin Group

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History

Penguin Group is the second biggest trade publisher in the world, after Random House, and is a division of the British conglomerate Pearson. Penguin Group has locations across the globe and the American division, formally called Penguin Group USA, is housed on Hudson Street in New York City.

Penguin Group dates back to the late 1800s, specifically 1838 when George Palmer Putnam and John Wiley founded the company in New York. Although Penguin is a major publisher which, like all the other big trade houses, publishes the full breadth of literature, it’s often identified, especially outside the industry, for its Classics series. (Who hasn’t read a classic literature title with that famous symbol of a little Penguin on its spine?) The publisher founded its Penguin Classics series in 1946, launching it with Homer The Odyssey.

Notable Imprints

Penguin has over 50 imprints, each specializing in certain types of books. In addition to its flagship imprint (Penguin) -- which publishes a mix of literary and commercial titles and is not to be confused with its Penguin Press imprint -- these are a few of the other well known imprints at the house:

  • Riverhead Books -- Known for commercial and literary books, both fiction and non-fiction. Authors include Khaled Hosseini, Zadie Smith and Junot Diaz.

  • Dutton -- Dutton was brought into Penguin’s fold in 1986 when it was acquired. (It started as a bookstore in Boston in the mid 1800s.) It, like Riverhead, releases commercial and literary titles. Big authors include Joyce Carol Oates, John Irving and Gail Sheehy. There is also a Dutton Children’s imprint.

  • G.P. Putnam’s Sons -- A big-name adult division at the house, Putnam has, as Penguin boasts, published more hardcover bestsellers than any other imprint in the industry. While it does do some literary fiction, it publishes more big bestsellers. To that end, authors include Robin Cook, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Nora Roberts and Amy Tan.
  • Viking -- A more literary imprint, Viking boasts a number of Nobel and Pulitzer winners. Some of it big name authors (living and dead) include Saul Bellow, John Steinbeck, Gloria Naylor and Geraldine Brooks (who won the Pullitzer in 2006 for March).

  • Portfolio -- This imprint is dedicated solely to business books and was the first such specialized imprint, when it was founded 2001. (Now other houses have business-books-only imprints.)
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