Random House, Inc. assumed its current ownership with its acquisition by Bertelsmann in 1998, which brought together the imprints of the former Random House, Inc. with those of the former Bantam Doubleday Dell. Random House, Inc.'s adult publishing groups are the Crown Publishing Group, the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, and the Random House Publishing Group. The Random House Children's Books division is the world's largest publisher of books for young readers.
Together, these groups and their imprints publish fiction and nonfiction, both original and reprints, by some of the foremost and most popular writers of our time. They appear in a full range of formats.including hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, audio, electronic, and digital, for the widest possible readership from adults to young adults and children.
The reach of Random House is global, with Random House publishing companies in nineteen countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, U.S., and Venezuela. Through Random House International, the books published by the imprints of Random House, Inc. are sold in virtually every country in the world.
Random House has long been committed to publishing the best literature by writers both in the United States and abroad. In addition to their commercial success, books published by Random House, Inc. have won an unrivalled number of Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes.
The signature Random House imprint was founded in 1925, when Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer purchased The Modern Library, reprints of classic works of literature, from publisher Horace Liveright. Two years later, in 1927, they decided to broaden their publishing activities, and the Random House colophon made its debut.
Random House first made international news by successfully defending in court the U.S. publication of James Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, setting a major legal precedent for freedom of speech. Beginning in the 1930s, the company moved into publishing for children, and over the years has become a leader in the field. Random House entered reference publishing in 1947 with the highly successful American College Dictionary, which was followed in 1966 by the equally successful unabridged Random House Dictionary of the English Language. It continues to publish numerous reference works, including the Random House Webster's College Dictionary.
In 1960, Random House acquired the distinguished American publishing house of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and, a year later, Pantheon Books, which had been established in New York by European editors to publish works from abroad. Both were assured complete editorial independence.a policy which continues in all parts of the company to this day.
Random House, Inc. was itself acquired in 1965 by the major media corporation, RCA. The publisher's expansion continued with the acquisition in 1973 of Ballantine Books, whose mass market paperback publishing program enabled Random House to reach a much broader and more diverse readership.
In 1980, Random House was acquired by Advance Publications, Inc., a privately held company. There followed a period of significant growth, including the acquisition of the paperback publisher Fawcett Books in 1982; the creation of Villard Books, a new hardcover imprint, in 1983; the acquisition of Times Books from The New York Times Company in 1984; and Fodor's Travel Guides, acquired in 1986.
In 1988, Random House again grew dramatically with the acquisition of the Crown Publishing Group, whose imprints included Crown; Clarkson Potter, Inc.; Harmony Books; and the Outlet Book Company, a major publisher of low-priced books now known as Random House Value Publishing.
Having established Random House of Canada in 1944, Random House significantly expanded its international presence in 1987 to the United Kingdom with the acquisition of the British publishing group, Chatto, Virago, Bodley Head & Jonathan Cape, Ltd. The London operation was further expanded with the acquisition of Century Hutchinson Ltd. in 1989, and the trade division of Reed Books in 1997. Both the Canadian and UK operations grew substantially in 1998 with the acquisition of Random House, Inc. by Bertelsmann AG. Bertelsmann's Doubleday Canada and Bantam Books Canada merged with Random House of Canada, whose imprints also include Random House Canada, Knopf Canada, Vintage Canada, and Ballantine Canada. Transworld UK, Bertelsmann's UK operation, joined Random House UK, with subsidiaries in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Verlagsgruppe Random House, based in Munich, is Germany's trade-book-publishing market leader. Random House Mondadori, a joint venture with Italy's Mondadori Publishers, is the second-largest Spanish-language trade-book publisher, with highly respected imprints in Spain and Latin America.