You say merger, I say happy hour?
By Melissa Presti (Book Publisher)
What do the following pairs have in common?
- Yankees and Red Sox
- Facebook and Twitter
- Bloomingdales and Macys
- Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts
- Jack Daniels and Jameson
They could potentially join forces as one superhuman team and take over the world. Or at least, dominate their respective industries.
And that's what has been on my mind since news broke last week announcing a possible merge of the two greatest publishing giants - Random House and Penguin. Obviously, I have something at stake in the matter. I have as much information as the announcement itself; discussions are in fact taking place that may or may not result in an agreement. Vague.
At worst, a merge would create a 20% monopoly on the entire publishing industry that is already fighting the digital world and Amazon beast. At best, British parent company of Penguin (Pearson) and German parent company of Random House (Bertelsmann) would produce a new line of dignified, smooth-talking, beer-swilling book nerds. How awesome and classy does that sound?
Publishing folks had about 3 stages of emotional reactions:
- Freak out. OMG What if I lose my job?? How can 2 huge companies merge AND keep everyone?!
- Acceptance. If we get a severance package this might be the greatest thing EVER! I can finally do the freelance thing. Unless "severance package" means "one final book raid from the take shelves."
- Name Game. Penguin House? Random Penguin? House of Penguin? Or my personal creation and favorite, Alcoholics Anonymous (publishing inside joke hahaha no but seriously).
- Internet meme, obviously.
4a. And a new Life in Publishing Tumblr:
WHEN AN ACTUAL YOUNGISH, ATTRACTIVEISH, HETEROSEXUALISH MAN WALKS THROUGH THE OFFICE.
This weekend the New York Times blog let me know that Ruper Murdoch's News Corporatioin (owner of HarperCollins) has offered up a hefty amount of cash for us as well. If a bidding war ensues, I think we'll be waiting it out at the bar.
**Update! At the time of blog submission the aforementioned details were the most up-to-date. As of 9am-ish on October 29th, the merge has officially completed the transaction. For now it appears both publishers will continue to operate autonomously until further notice. And get this - we will now be known as Penguin Random House. It's clear who the favorite is, but seriously lacks all creativity. If my office moves from the West Village to Midtown, this won't be the last time you hear from me about this.