Sim’s move to Penguin from HMV will be a similar challenge

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Graham Sim, HMV’s marketing director is to move to Penguin Books later this summer. By joining another industry that is undergoing a massive shift, Sim will have his work cut out for him.

Under Sim and CEO Simon Fox, HMV has taken steps to adapt to the landscape and diversify into complementary revenue streams such as festivals, live events, gaming and digital downloads, but these have yet to play out in its sales and profit. Much of the City is yet to be convinced of the HMV brand’s ability to reverse its fortunes.

At Penguin, Sim will face many of the same issues that that have chipped away at HMV’s once mighty place on the high street.

Where HMV’s strong footing in the music market has been eroded by digital developments, online streaming and illegal downloads, so book publishers face the migration from print to digital, illegal e-book downloads and the challenge from brands who are becoming content providers themselves.

Much like the newspapers are facing debates over paywalls versus free content and consumers that want to access content via multiple channels such print, online, mobile and tablet devices, publishers like Penguin face the same.

In the main, Sim will be responsible for developing the marketing, publicity and brand strategies of its children’s division, which includes imprints such as the Ladybird, Puffin and recently launched young adult imprint Razorbill.

He will oversee author branding, licensing, digital marketing, social media, CRM management, consumer analytics, e-commerce as well as taking on the wider remit of identifying new business models for the publisher to exploit.

Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin UK, says Sim’s appointment is part of its “transmedia strategy” to “transform children’s publishing”.

Tablet devices like the iPad, Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Kindle book reader are already transforming the publishing industry and in January, e-book sales overtook sales of paperbacks for the first time in the US, according to Amazon.

The challenge facing Sim at Penguin, and the rest of the publishing industry is to assess how these devices and the demand for interactivity and digital content, can be an asset rather than a threat to publishing.

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