Random Penguins, Part Deux

penguin-random-house Last November, I blogged about the possible Random House and Penguin Books merger. Or rather, the merger between German conglomerate Bertelsmann (the owner of Random House) and the parent company of Penguin (the British company Pearson). At the time, the merger had not yet been approved by the regulatory agencies. As controversial as the merger was for some, most experts thought it would be approved and that the newly named Penguin Random House would become reality.

Sure enough, it seems they might be right. One major step has made this huge merger possible. As reported by the New York Times and Publishers Weekly, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the upcoming merger. On top of that, the DOJ did not impose any conditions upon the merger. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that the DOJ had approved this merger.

Because huge international corporations are involved, the DOJ isn’t the only government entity that will be looking into this upcoming merger. According to the New York Times article, while the DOJ approval was far from a shock to experts, approval from international bodies won’t be as easy. Approval from the European Commission might prove to be a stumbling block. At the very least, the EC is expected to impose conditions on the merger. Also, the merger has to be approved by the Canadian Competition Bureau, among others.

Do I want the merger to go through? It depends. The New York Times article also points out that the new company, Penguin Random House, will control “25 percent of the English-language consumer book market.” That’s a lot of books for one company to control, and one has to wonder how that will affect authors and readers. On the other hand, in today’s changing marketplace, it seems that companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google already control a huge portion of the consumer book market (not to mention the music, movie, TV, and app market). So maybe a big merger in the publishing industry is needed to make actual publishers a strong part of book publishing again. Actual publishers competing with Amazon, Apple, and Google. Wow, what a concept. However, if I read the phrase “new digital publishing models” one more time, I will throw my ereader at a financial reporter.

Let’s hope the regulators who are looking into this merger, and the people at the top of Bertelsmann and Penguin, have the wisdom of Solomon. Publishing already has demons of its own to cope with.

– Anne Marble

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5 Responses to “Random Penguins, Part Deux”

  1. maggie b. says:

    I don’t ever know what to think when I read these things. I have hated the way Amazon has essentially destroyed the book and mortar stores – and yes, I lay a nice chunk of the blame on them. OTH, nothing like the shop at home convenience and instant gratification of the Kindle. It will be interesting to see what happens as a result of the merger – and I still think they should go with your name. Random Penguins is way cooler than whatever they decide to go with.

  2. Anne AAR says:

    I think the Kindle makes book buying too easy. ;) “OMG, Miriam Minger’s Twin Passions is an eBook!” Click! Never mind that I read Twin Passions when it first came out (bought it new from a small bookstore) and still have a paper copy. Never mind that I already had the eBook edition in another format. Cough.

    I hope the Random Penguins people find a way to compete with that. It might even save me some money.

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  5. Nana Cav says:

    I hate that it is becoming harder and harder to find a bookstore in your neighborhood. I do not own a Kindle nor do I have any intentions of getting one. There is nothing like the feel of an actual book in your hands…. And when you are done with it you may pass it on to your daughter or friend.