Penguin Random House calls off Simon & Schuster merger

23 November 2022

Penguin Random House, one of the world’s largest book publishers, has called off a proposed merger with Simon & Schuster. Last month, a United States court blocked the proposal, on the grounds competition, and remuneration to authors, stood to be adversely effected. Initially Penguin had indicated they would appeal the ruling, in the hope the deal could still go ahead. The merger, had it proceeded, would have reduced the world’s major publishers from five to four.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the deal in November 2021. In hearings held in August, the government argued that the largest five publishers control 90% of the market, and a combined Penguin and Simon & Schuster would control nearly half of the market for publishing rights to blockbuster books, while its nearest competitors would be less than half its size.

Hopefully this is a good outcome for authors and book readers. However, Paramount Global, who own Simon & Schuster, have expressed a desire to divest itself of the book publisher, as the film production company sees ownership of a publisher as a non-core asset. This probably means we’ll see Simon & Schuster being brought to the market again, at some point in the future.

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