Penguin Random House to Buy Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster, one of the Big Five publishers in the country, went up for sale earlier this year after the owner, ViacomCBS, announced that after a “strategic review,” the book publisher was no longer essential to its business and that it would seek a buyer.

This sale was a source of immediate concern for the industry, seeing that in the last few years a series of consolidations have swept the book business. Just this decade, Penguin and Random House merged, Hachette Book Group acquired Perseus Books and News Corporation bought the romance publisher Harlequin, making  publishing a “winner-takes-all” business control only by a couple of big companies.

ViacomCBS Putting Simon & Schuster Up For Sale 03/05/2020

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This $2 billion purchase, Penguin Random House, owned by the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann buying Simon & Schuster, the third largest publisher, creates a book behemoth and triggers anti-trust concerns.

“I would make one observation about Simon & Schuster,” said CEO Robert Thomson “It will clearly be a serious antitrust issue if Bertelsmann acquires Simon & Schuster. However cute and clever the structure, if Bertelsmann is their beneficiary, it will be a book behemoth. And this will certainly be a profound antitrust issue for the entire book industry and, no doubt, for authors around the world.”

El grupo Penguin Random House compra la editorial catalana La Campana Llibres - Infobae

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Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe told The Financial Times that he didn’t think S&S purchase would raise antitrust concerns. “We looked at this and we don’t think it is an issue,” Rabe told the FT. “If you look at the market holistically, particularly the strength of Amazon, and it includes self-publishing and the like, we don’t think this will be an obstacle.”

The story surrounding this purchase is still developing, but with the Big Five becoming the Big Four, this move is set to send ripples and uncertainty through the industry for years to come.

Feature image via Publishing Perspectives