• By The Financial District


Updated: Nov 27, 2020

German media giant Bertelsmann said that its Penguin Random House division is buying rival Simon & Schuster in a megadeal that will reshape the US publishing industry, Frank Jordans and Hillel Italie reported for the Associated Press (AP).

Penguin Random House, already the largest American publisher, will buy the New York-based Simon & Schuster, whose authors include Stephen King, Hillary Clinton and John Irving, from TV and film company ViacomCBS for $2.17 billion in cash. The purchase of Simon & Schuster would reduce the so-called Big Five of American publishing — which also includes HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan — to four. The US is Bertelsmann's second biggest market.

“As an organization of writers it’s important to us that the publishing industry (thrives), and that there be multiple, robust outlets to bring the widest variety of books to audiences,” said Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America. “To the extent that efficiencies are garnered through consolidation, it is our hope that they are a catalyst to enable greater investment in authors, books, and outreach to readers.”

Bertelsmann’s rival News Corp., which owns HarperCollins, also slammed the deal. “Bertelsmann is not just buying a book publisher, but buying market dominance as a book behemoth,” said News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said in a statement. “This literary leviathan would have 70% of the US literary and general fiction market.”