As Book Profits Get Squeezed, Random House Turns To Video Gaming


Random House has set up a small unit to create books tied to new and existing video game titles in an attempt to compensate for the weakness in other parts of the book business, the WSJ reports. The publisher is already shopping around two original storylines, though the company is keeping the details vague. One story is described as being in the “adventure” genre, while the other is built around a horror tale. Random House also has a deal with software firm Stardock to create stories around the company’s strategy game Elemental: War of Magic, which is slated to go on sale by the fall.

Along with other major publishers, Random House has been aggressively building up its digital book catalog. As the WSJ points out, e-books sales are expected to comprise roughly 3- to 5 percent of total book sales. Although that number should grow over time, e-books will likely bring in less revenue per unit relative to hardcover titles.

So Random House is making a bet that video games can provide another revenue stream as the ground shifts beneath the publishers. It’s a fairly small bet at the moment. Just 15 staffers are working on the video game effort. Still, the returns could be notable if fans respond what Random House says will be more sophisticated writing than most video games are known for.


Justin Kownacki

I can think of quite a few startups who’d LOVE to have a spare 15 employees they could reassign to a new venture. If the rest of the book industry is allegedly in the tank, it makes me wonder how many more employees are assigned to the tasks that are drying up.

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