News for Authors

A Look Back at the Penguin Hotline

by Jordan Aaronson|January, 2023

The Penguin Hotline, Penguin Random House’s holiday gift-giving book recommendation service, completed its ninth season in December. The Hotline is completely free and easy to use: Consumers can write in to and answer a few questions about the people they are buying holiday gifts for, including the readers’ favorite books, TV shows, movies, magazines, hobbies, etc. Within a few days, the consumer will receive a personal letter from a PRH employee with customized book recommendations to help them shop. The Hotline runs for two weeks every holiday season.

Hundreds of employees from around the company volunteer every single year. We have colleagues from marketing, editorial, publicity, production, sales, warehouse and shipping, customer service, IT, and more. In addition to our amazing employee volunteers, many of our authors volunteer as well. For the 2022 season, we had fifteen authors work the Hotline, including Emily Henry, Nick Offerman, Riley Sager, Grady Hendrix, and Ali Hazelwood. It’s a company-wide morale booster as we all come together to share our favorite and most beloved stories.

This year’s theme was “Booked for the Holidays”—because there is nothing quite like filling your holiday break with a stack of good books. For the past few years, in addition to a fun theme, we have included a charitable component. This year’s partner was the National Council of Teachers of English, an organization devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. Penguin Random House donated $2 to NCTE for every Hotline ticket received, for a total donation of $10,000.

Finally, one of the best parts of the Hotline is feedback from the consumers. Our volunteers get tons of rave reviews, but here are some of 2022’s highlights:

  • “All I can say is WOW! The care and attention you gave my request made me feel like I was talking to an old friend. Looking forward to purchasing ALL of these great recommendations.”
  • “I just wanted to thank you so much for these recommendations. I can see how much time and thought you put into each of them. I actually did this as a gift to myself—opening this email felt like Christmas morning! I really loved this hotline and will recommend it to my friends!”
  • “Thank you for this lovely email; it is a gift itself.”
  • “Thank you for your email reply to my challenging Hotline request! You certainly went the extra mile in helping with my request!! PRH is number one in my book (pun intended).”
  • “I can’t wait to tell my grandmother how I came up with her gift this year—she will be amazed that someone was out there thinking about what she might like to read.”

We are so looking forward to the 2023 Penguin Hotline season, which will also mark one decade of this beloved and enduring project. We’re hoping to reach even more readers, find even more colleagues to volunteer, and bring even more joy to book lovers everywhere.