Penguin Random House announced its bid to acquire Simon & Schuster in November 2020. The deal — combining two of the top five book publishers in the United States — normally would have taken effect by now. But the Justice Department is standing in the way, and an antitrust trial is set to begin on Monday.
Judge Florence Pan of the US District Court in Washington, DC will hear about three weeks of oral arguments. The government says, in its pre-trial brief, that the publisher combo “would further entrench the largest publishing giant in the United States (and the world) and give the merged company control of nearly half of the market to acquire anticipated top-selling books from authors.”
The publishers say that “after the merger, the market dynamic will be just the same” and reject the arguments that authors will suffer.
The judge is expected to rule in November…
Simon & Schuster (which, full disclosure, was the publisher of my most recent book) is going to be sold by Paramount Global one way or another. Speculation abounds about potential private equity bidders. But for now, the buyer is Penguin Random House, and S&S CEO Jonathan Karp (who previously spent 16 years at PRH) said in a recent memo to staffers that “we, and our authors, will benefit greatly from becoming a part of this superb publishing company.”
>> “Regardless of the outcome,” Karp wrote, there will be a new owner, and “the best and most important thing we can do is to remain focused on achieving excellence on behalf of our authors and their books, assured in our purpose …”