As of writing this, Penguin Random House has announced a deal to buy Simon & Schuster in a $2.175 billion deal. This aqusition will give Penguin Random House 30% of the market share of publishing- taking the Top 5 Publishers down to 4. It would give them currently two-thirds of the titles on the NYT best-selling list, 20 out of 30 books. It’s raised concerns for anti-trust laws and similar laws.
The deal is expected to be completed in 2021 with the current leadership operating independently until the deal is complete. However, layoffs are expected and a concern among the already ravaged publishing community from Covid earlier this year.
But it’s also causing worry among writers, authors, agents, editors, and publishers alike. The rise of a megapublisher could lead to less diverse book deals, fewer imprints, fewer editors, less debut authors, and less publicity for smaller authors.
The Author’s Guild and the American Booksellers Associations both wrote statements expressing their outrage over such a merger. Both state that they will be calling upon the Justice Department to challenge the deal so that the power isn’t resting in so little companies. While other organizations expressed their concerned but stopped short of calling for the Justice Department to investigate.
Book Twitter launched into a barrage of tweets expressing their horror and dismay about the news, but also some deciding to handle it with a bit of humor.
According to the New York Times, the deal will help protect ViacomCBS in the event the authorties get involved and Bertselmann would pay a termination fee if the deal doesn’t go through.
If the deal goes through might have to sell divisions or imprints, but sell enough to create enough viable competitors in the marketplace. Like the concerns of Book Twitter, they cite Amazon being the biggest threat to the market.
Simon & Schuster which has been around for some 90-years, founded in 1924, publishes popular and well known authors like Stephen King and owns a backlist of some 30,000 titles to it’s name. They started out selling crossword puzzles and later expanded to more than 20 imprints.
Penguin and Random House merged in 2013 to provide leverage against Amazon and to combat the small bookstores dying. They remain confident that Simon & Schuster will retain creative freedom and still compete with one another for projects. Penguin Random House were not the only interested parties, there was about half a dozen other offers involved.
Penguin was created in 1935 and Random house in 1927 . Penguin Random House is currently the only publisher in the US whose books ship 7 days a week.
ViacomCBS plans on using the money to pay down debt and invest in streaming which it sees as more valuable compared to book in the future.
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