Penguin Random House acquisition of Simon & Schuster blocked by US Court
Depending on how closely you care to examine popular incarnations of ancient traditions, Halloween is variously regarded as a liminal time during which the bounds of the living and the dead become more than usually porous, or an opportunity for parents and children to bond over community-spirited arson.
One feature of modern Halloween, now safely returned to us after two years in the wilderness, is the practice of trick-or-treating. Unless you hate children, your neighbours and very likely yourself, this will usually be more ‘treat’ than ‘trick’ – however, it is technically possible that rather than receiving an ever-lasting gobstopper, you may get a nasty surprise.
Such was the case in the unfestive atmosphere of the US District Court for the District of Columbia on 31 October. And the disappointed children on the doorstep were Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.
Two years ago, Penguin Random House agreed a deal to buy their fellow ‘Big Five’ publisher for a reported $2 billion, to create what the New York Times referred to as ‘the word’s first megapublisher.’
The acquisition almost immediately became the subject of anti-trust examination, with a concern that this giant consolidation would effectively create a monopoly and distort the book market in negative way. The federal judge in this case, Florence Pan, was persuaded that it would. Trick. No treat. And definitely no megapublisher.
The furious parents in this case, Bertelsmann and Paramount Global, attempted to mollify their sobbing offspring with talk of an immediate appeal. While nothing in this article should be ever be construed as actual legal advice, perhaps their pin-striped boffins might do their best to have the next hearing on a more conducive holiday.
Valentine’s Day might do the trick.