PRH/S&S Merger Doomed

The proposed merger between Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster has unraveled. On November 22, 2022, S&S parent Paramount Global filed with the SEC and confirmed they were terminating the agreement. Paramount is entitled to a termination fee of $200 million.

PRH parent company Berteslmann issued a press release that says, “Bertelsmann will advance the growth of its global book publishing business without the previously planned merger of Penguin ...Read More

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Judge Forbids PRH/S&S Merger

Judge Florence Pan has ruled in favor of the Department of Justice, blocking the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.

According to Reuters:

Judge Florence Pan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in a brief order that she had found the Justice Department had shown the deal may substantially lessen competition “in the market for the U.S. publishing rights to anticipated ...Read More

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PRH and S&S Merger Trial

The lawsuit filed by the US Department of Jus­tice to stop the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster went to trial on August 1, 2022, with Judge Florence Pan presiding. The trial included expert testimo­ny from a wide variety of authors, agents, and publishing professionals. Closing arguments took place on August 19. A ruling is expected in November. The fundamental question is wheth­er the merger will ...Read More

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DoJ Challenges PRH and S&S Merger

The United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on November 2, 2021 to stop the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. The government cited concerns that the deal would be detrimental to writers because it would “likely to substantially lessen competition,” leading to a “highly concentrated” market: “The merger would give Penguin Random House outsized influence over who and what is published, and how much ...Read More

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Random Penguin Merger Approved

The merger of Penguin and Random House has been approved by the US Department of Justice. The DoJ notified Bertelsmann and Pearson “that it has closed its investigation into the proposed merger of Penguin and Random House, without conditions,” according to a statement. The approval comes just under four months after the deal was announced, remarkably fast for the DoJ. This makes the US the first country to approve the ...Read More

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Random House/Penguin Merger

Random House and Penguin have signed an agreement to combine the two companies, forming Penguin Random House, though such a merger is subject to government approval before it can be finalized. If all goes well, the merger will be complete by late 2013.

Under the terms of the agreement, Random House parent company Bertselmann would own 53% of the venture, and Penguin parent Pearson would own 47%. Random House CEO ...Read More

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Random House and Penguin Merger Talks

A spokesperson for Pearson, the British media company that owns publisher Penguin, has confirmed that Pearson “is discussing with Bertelsmann a possible combination of Penguin and Random House. The two companies have not reached agreement and there is no certainty that the discussions will lead to a transaction.” German conglomerate Bertelsmann has declined to comment, referring questioners to the Pearson statement.

A combined Random House and Penguin would account for ...Read More

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PRH CEO McIntosh Steps Down

Madeline McIntosh will leave her position as CEO of Penguin Random House US following a transition period:

I am stepping down from my position as your U.S. CEO. I’m not leaving right away; instead, Nihar [Malaviya] and I are working very closely together to determine the best plan for the U.S. organization going forward. I know you’ll be in good hands with Nihar and the U.S. Board. They know and ...Read More

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Issue 744 Table of Contents, January 2023

The January 2023 issue of Locus magazine has interviews with Annalee Newitz and Alex Jennings and spotlights on author adrienne maree brown and the Portolan Project. Greg Bear (1951-2022) is remembered with an obituary and appreciations. News covers the fallout from the antitrust ruling preventing the proposed Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster merger, Kindle’s magazine shutdown, a HarperCollins strike update, the 2022 #BlackSpecFic report, and much more. People

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PRH CEO Dohle Steps Down

Markus Dohle is stepping down from his position as CEO of Penguin Random House as well as resigning from PRH parent company Bertelsmann’s Executive Board. Dohle took over as CEO of Random House in 2008 and joined the Bertelsmann Executive Board. He was appointed PRH’s first CEO when the publishing group was founded on July 1, 2013. Dohle said,

Following the antitrust decision in the U.S. against the merger of ...Read More

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Issue 743 Table of Contents, December 2022

The December 2022 issue of Locus magazine has interviews with Julie E. Czerneda and Saad Z. Hossain, and spotlights on artist Geneva Bowers and author Khan Wong. The issue lists US and UK forthcoming books titles through September 2023. Stories include the World Fantasy Awards and convention report, the judge’s ruling to block the PRH/S&S merger, HarperCollins strike news, Harry Josephine Giles’s Clarke Award win, Donato Giancola and Wayne Barlowe ...Read More

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Charles Stross: Demolition Masquerade

CHARLES DAVID GEORGE STROSS was born October 18, 1964 in Leeds, England. Stross began writing SF at age 12, and his earliest publica­tions were articles for roleplaying game magazines in the ’70s and ’80s. He earned a bachelor’s in pharmacy in 1986, qualified as a pharmacist in 1987, then enrolled at Bradford University (1989-90) for a post-graduate conversion degree in computer science. He worked as a technical writer and programmer ...Read More

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Full PRH S&S Antitrust Decision

Judge Florence Pan has now issued her full decision blocking the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, following her brief announcement last week.

Her 80-page decision reveals that she had significant reservations about the merger from the start, and did not find the PRH and S&S arguments in favor of the deal convincing. Her conclusion reads,

The government has presented a compelling case that predicts substantial ...Read More

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Issue 740 Table of Contents, September 2022

The September 2022 issue of Locus magazine has interviews with Zoraida Córdova and Grady Hendrix. The issue lists US and UK forthcoming books through June 2023. News covers the PRH and S&S Merger Trial, the attack on Salman Rushdie, the Imaginales Festival Controversy,  the Mythopoeic Awards winners, Scribe Awards winners and much more. This month’s commentary by Cory Doctorow is entitled Moneylike. Photo stories cover SF in SF and Charm ...Read More

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DoJ vs PRH Trial Begins

The lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice to stop the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster has gone to trial this week.

Publishers Weekly has been covering the case: Monday featured opening arguments and testimony by Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch for the government, giving an overview of the book business and discussing how the merger would have a deleterious effect on competition.

Tuesday’s proceedings ...Read More

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Simon & Schuster’s Canedy Leaves

Publisher Dana Canedy is stepping down from Simon & Schuster’s adult imprint after two years to focus on writing her next memoir (out from S&S in 2024). She was the first Black woman to ever hold the position. CEO Jonathan Karp will take over her position “for the foreseeable future.”

Karp says Canedy “has improved and bolstered the Simon & Schuster imprint in innumerable ways: by attracting incredibly talented authors ...Read More

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Publishing News

Hachette Book Group has announced their latest plan for employees to return to the New York offices on April 25, 2022. Offices elsewhere have return dates in April and May. They will begin a six-month pilot, following ‘‘a hybrid model, with all fully vaccinated office-based staff members required to work from the office two days per week.’’

Macmillan is launching a ‘‘hybrid/remote-friendly’’ pilot on April 4, to run through October: ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Vertically Challenged

Science fiction has a longstanding love-hate relationship with the tech tycoon. The literature is full of billionaire inventors, sometimes painted as system-bucking heroes, at other times as megalomanical supervillains.

From time to time, we even manage to portray one of these people in a way that hews most closely to reality: ordinary mediocrities, no better than you or I, whose success comes down to a combination of luck and a ...Read More

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Hachette Livre Acquires Remaining Bragelonne Stakes

Lagardère SCA subsidiary Hachette Livre announced acquisition of “the remaining share capital of Bragelonne and Bragelonne Games that is not yet owned by Hachette Livre.” Hachette had acquired 43% of the company in a 2019 merger. According to the announcement:

Within Hachette Livre, Bragelonne and its labels, driven by passionate and talented teams, will continue to develop itself with its own identity, while simultaneously benefiting from the sales and distribution ...Read More

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PRH Responds to DoJ

As we reported last month, the United States De­partment of Justice filed a lawsuit on November 2, 2021 to stop the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, citing concerns that the deal could lessen competition, lead to a highly concentrated publishing market, and reduce advances for authors, especially of “anticipated top-selling books.”

PRH filed their initial response in December 2021, countering that the DoJ “invents a ...Read More

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Issue 731 Table of Contents, December 2021

The December 2021 issue of Locus magazine has interviews with Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and a spotlight on artist Gary Villarreal. The issue lists US and UK forthcoming books titles through September 2022. Stories include the World Fantasy Awards and convention report, a report on the 2021 Writers and Illustrators of the Future event, the Department of Justice challenge to the PRH and S&S merger, the creation of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Angels of L19 by Jonathan Walker

The Angels of L19, Jonathan Walker (Weather­glass Books 978-1-838-01813-9, £10.99, 240pp, tp) August 2021.

Jonathan Walker’s The Angels of L19 is the second offering from newly established small press Weatherglass Books. Founded by Da­mian Lanigan and Neil Griffiths, Weatherglass is part of the vanguard of micro- and small publishers, including Galley Beggar Press, Sublunary Edi­tions, Tramp Press, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Boiler House Press, and Influx Press, breathing life into a ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability

I care about monopolies for exactly one reason: self-determination. I don’t care about competition as an end unto itself, or fetishize “choice” for its own sake. What I care about is your ability to live your life in the way you think will suit you, to the greatest extent possible, and taking into account the obvious limits when other people’s needs and wants conflict with you realizing your own desires. ...Read More

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Publishing News, June 2021

The merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster has been approved in the UK by the Competition & Markets Authority. Simon & Schuster’s UK division had 2019 sales of £41.5 million. The merger is still under review by the Department of Justice in the US.

Arc Manor Publishing now has two speculative fiction imprints: Phoenix Pick produces print-on-demand work, while CAEZIK SF & Fantasy has traditional distribution via ...Read More

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HMH No More

The sale of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s publishing company, HMH Books & Media, to News Corp (parent company of HarperCollins) is complete… and doesn’t include the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt name, which the original parent company intends to keep for its technology business. HarperCollins says they will phase out use of the name, ending a legacy that began over a century and a half ago when Boston printer Henry Houghton branched out ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Qualia

Last summer, the pandemic was in its first wave and the nation was in chaos. A lack of federal leadership left each state to figure out how to interpret the science, and many states punted public health decisions to counties or cities or even smaller units, like universities.

Leaders, left to their own, often winged it, letting wishful thinking trump prudence in the drive to find ways to “reopen safely.” ...Read More

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Publishing News, March 2021

The Authors Guild, the Open Markets Institute, and various writing organizations (including the Horror Writers Association and the Romance Writers Association) have released an open letter to the US Department of Justice, urging them to reject the proposed merger of Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House on antitrust grounds:

The deal would bring well more than half of key U.S. book markets under the control of a single corporation, ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Free Markets

If you learned your economics from Heinlein novels or the University of Chicago, you probably think that “free market” describes an economic system that is free from government interference – where all consensual transactions between two or more parties are permissible.

But if you went to the source, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, you’ll have found a very dif­ferent definition of a free market: Smith’s concern wasn’t freedom from ...Read More

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PRH to Buy Simon & Schuster

Penguin Random House has announced plans to purchase Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS for $2.175 billion in an all-cash deal. ViacomCBS had reportedly hoped to sell S&S for at least $1.2 billion. S&S had $814 million in sales in 2019 and $823 million in 2018.

The company was initially offered for sale in March 2020, but plans were put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic hit. After the S&S acquisition ...Read More

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Pandemic Publishing News

A Publishers Weekly survey in June revealed that most publishers in New York anticipated bringing employees back after Labor Day, but that’s not happening.

Macmillan’s offices won’t open until January 11, 2021 at the earliest, but some employees will be al­lowed access to their Manhattan office on a trial basis upon request.

Simon & Schuster’s CEO Bob Bakish wrote in a memo that “at this point, we are assuming the ...Read More

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Eric L. Harry Guest Post–“How Does the World End? Let Me Count the Ways”

Before we get started, let’s define what we mean by “the end of the world.”

Extinguishing all life on earth would be difficult. Every day, 800 million viruses and tens of millions of bacteria rain down from the troposphere onto every square meter of the planet’s surface. Extremophile microorganisms flourish at unimaginable pressures in the depths of the Marianas Trench. Russian cosmonauts claim to have found plankton surviving the vacuum ...Read More

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PRH Belongs to Bertelsmann

German conglomerate Bertelsmann is now the sole owner of Penguin Random House after Pearson sold them its 25% owner­ship stake for an estimated $675 million. The deal is expected to be complete in the spring. Pearson owned Penguin, and Ber­telsmann owned Random House, before the merger in 2012, at which point Bertels­mann had a 53% share and Pearson 47%. Pearson later sold 22% of its shares to the other company ...Read More

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