Bertelsmann Names Peter Olson's Successor

by Staff

Bertelsmann chairman Hartmut Ostrowski announced today that Markus Dohle, head of the German media conglomerate's printing unit, will succeed Peter Olson as chairman of Random House. The annoucement comes two weeks after the New York Times reported Olson's departure following rumors that first surfaced at the London Book Fair last month.

Olson, who was the chief executive of the world's largest publishing house for the past decade, will step down May 31. In a personal letter to Random House staff, Olson wrote that he and his family will be relocating to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is "in discussions for a senior faculty position starting in the fall with a full-time workload at a nearby university."

"It had been my dream since my school days to someday make books the center of my life and for the past ten years I have been living it," Olson wrote. "I have been immensely fortunate to lead a company like no other in trade book publishing. During this decade, building on its heritage, our authors, and your talents and commitment, Random House has sold more than four billion books worldwide, enriching the lives of readers; developed and nurtured unparalled original local-language publishing programs in nineteen countries and five languages; published over four thousand national bestsellers and eight new Nobel laureates and fifteen Pulitzer Prize winners; implemented a forward-thinking strategy for digital publishing; and become the standard-bearer in our industry for environmental responsibility."

Dohle, who, at thirty-nine, is nineteen years younger than Olson, was the head of Bertelsmann's Arvato Print division, a position previously held by Ostrowski, who was named Bertelsmann CEO in January.

In other publishing personnel news, Marty Asher, the editor in chief of the Vintage Anchor imprint of Alfred A. Knopf, recently announced he will be stepping down after twenty-one years to become an editor at large at the company. He will be succeeded by LuAnn Walter, who is being appointed editorial director of Vintage Anchor, and Edward Kastenmeier, the new executive editor of the imprint.