The mega-merger hitting the book scene

Because arts graduates already didn’t have it hard enough, a proposed merger between publishers may spell trouble for up-and-coming Canadian authors. 

What happened: The US Justice Department (DoJ) is suing to block a proposed merger between Penguin Random House (PRH) and Simon & Schuster (S&S), alleging it would create a “behemoth, harming authors and consumers,” per The Financial Post. 

  • The DoJ claims the merger would reduce competition and lead to author payouts falling by up to 11% but the publishers argue that it’s necessary to compete with Amazon’s growing market power.

Why it matters: A successful merger would give these multinational companies even more influence over the publishing industry, most notably over what (and who) gets published. 

  • The industry is already heavily concentrated: PRH and S&S are two of only five major publishers (altogether, they publish 90% of all best-selling books).

Bottom line: The combined publisher would account for over 40% of the English-language market, according to the Association of Canadian Publishers. So far, Canada’s competition regulators have been silent on the issue, but the DoJ lawsuit could spark greater interest.