Thoughts On The Penguin/Random House Merger With Simon & Shuster

On November 25th The New York Times dropped a bomb on the publishing world. Penguin/Random House Publishing is potentially buying Simon & Shuster Publishing. There are three other possible buyers but Penguin/Random House seems to be the closest to the prize. Simon & Shuster was put up for sale back in March with the closing down of book stores due to the pandemic being the last nail in the coffin of a bad beginning of the year.

If the sale happens then it could make it even harder for new authors and small publishers to exist. Despite assurances that Penguin/Random House would keep each company running as a separate entity, no one feels safe. The Authors Guild has opposed the sale and asked the Justice Department to help prevent the deal from going through. The merger still needs to be seen and approved by Biden’s officials and it is hoped that they will be more understanding of the needs of writers. If this merger happens then it will be harder for new writers to become published let alone get a decent advance on their work. Bigger houses have more connections to potential outlets to sell books than the smaller publishers but they can be pickier about who they publish and for how much. If they are the only game in town they can potentially lowball the advance and there is nothing the author can do. With fewer connections than the big houses, the smaller publishers can not only lose authors but sales as well.

If this sale happens then that would give Penguin/Random House Publishing a scary 30% of the U.S. book market. Some possible remedies that could be imposed on the company could be that they have to sell off parts of the company to keep them from having too much leverage in the publishing world. Stay tuned to see how this page-turner finishes!

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