Assuming that the deal to merge Random House and Penguin passes anti-monopoly rules, two of the Big Six publishers will make the biggest one out of five.
The biggest publisher the world has ever seen, to be more precise.
Markus Dohle of Random House, which is being acquired by Penguin, has stated the case for the merger from the stockholders viewpoint. As you'd expect, a deal done at the higher levels is done to benefit the stockholders. That's how business goes.
But he also inserts a positive note into his remarks on the merger. Random House isn't going to change its ethos, he claims. At least that's his view at this point, before the actual fusing process causes unexpected results that could make his assertions moot.
This deal, Mr. Dohle says, is going to be good for authors and their literary agents because nothing will be different as far as Random House acquiring new books. The imprints will still be there, still looking for the same sort of book, still buying. The editorial focus will not be altered just because it's now Random Penguin or Penguin House or some computer-generated name.
Neither will there be synergies (mass firing of employees). He expects the big publisher to grow. This will not be a case of two big companies shrinking at all.
This will not resemble the merger of Riverdeep and Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt, which was intended to make the biggest educational materials publisher the world had ever seen.
But how can it not?
Penguin's sales are down. The industry, in general, is selling fewer books.
Digital publishing is changing the old ways of selling books, but can an even bigger, more unwieldy corporation come up with better ways to "reach out to even more readers around the world"?
Whatever is decided in the boardroom, you can bet that it will be a strategy to maximize shareholder value. Does that sound like more opportunities for new authors to break into the field? For more chances on unknown writers being taken, rather than focusing on the blockbusters and big names?
Time will tell, of course. A change of administration in Washington could bring a change to the mindset of the Justice Department, which may or may not look favorably on a mega-merger that could threaten American jobs. The current administration may not be keen to let jobs go, either.
In these early days, it's a lot of talk, and like any other romance, the talk is sweet.
No one will be fired. More books will be published. Authors won't be hurt. Assuming that they own stock in Random Penguin House, that is. Then they're assured of getting the maximum value from their holdings.