High Times Back Again, Sort of, for Penguin Books


Good news, laid-off book people! Penguin CEO David Shanks, feeling a bit cocky after announcing decent gains over 2008, says he'd like to "recruit people and authors" from less fortunate publishers in the coming year. This on top of a newsletter report from Publisher's Lunch that everyone working for Penguin and its British parent, Pearson, is getting a cash bonus (despite a current freeze on salaries above $50,000).

Sales are only about half as good as they look (up 7 percent officially), because they're reported in falling pounds, but all of the U.S. divisions did well. The main reason is that they sold books — particularly paperback bestsellers, which they're churning out with alarming regularity. Like Hachette's Little, Brown, which cashed in on Twilight, Penguin scored with vampires (Charlaine Harris, whose "Southern Vampire" series is the basis for True Blood). But goateed, Oprah-touted self-help guru Eckhart Tolle is the real hero of this story. Tolle's website leads with the quote, "The world can only change from within." But hey, a little cash and a steady job can't hurt.