This week’s decision of Bertelsmann, the parent company of Penguin Random House, to buy Simon and Schuster sent alarm bells ringing through the book publishing world. The deal, due to be completed in 2021, will combine the world’s biggest trade publisher with the world’s third.
Penguin Random House CEO, Markus Dohle, is quoted in a letter to employees, saying that the decision marks a “good day for books, book publishing, and reading.”
With the consolidation and cost-cutting that will invariably come, this decision means there will be less imprints (and publishing staff), leading to a shrinking catalogue of titles. As if it wasn’t hard enough already, opportunities for debut authors will also become that much harder, and agents will also have a harder time achieving favourable deals for writers – or any deal at all.
Monopolies impact culture. Monopolies favour trends over diversity.
Now more than ever, we need to support small presses and indie publishers. Now more than ever, we need to fight for a healthy publishing industry.
It is up to all of us, as consumers.