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What Does the Penguin Random House Merger Mean for Readers?

If you haven’t heard, it was announced today that the two giant publishing houses have officially merged to form Penguin Random House. The initial talks started back in October 2012.

According to reports, the two houses are merging…and not cutting much. The Verge claims that the newly combined publisher will maintain its 10,000 employees and 250 imprints. Translation: no mass lay-offs are planned and no genre imprints (like young adult or fantasy/sci-fi) will be closed for now.

penguin random house merger official

These types of shifts aren’t surprising. As someone from the journalism world, print publications folding and merging is a daily occurrence. In the case of editor lay-offs, we saw that the results were terrible – more mistakes and typos than ever before littering the pages (and online articles) of newspapers and magazines.

But, what about the Penguin Random House merger? What will this mean for readers? Because, ultimately, that’s what really matters – how will paying customers be affected by two huge publishers joining forces?

With the recent Amazon vs Big Six lawsuits, this merger could have a huge impact. Especially because: “The new company, called Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States, giving it unmatched leverage against Amazon.com, a growing force in the industry.” (New York Times)

Dear Author has a great summary of the lawsuit on the blog HERE. What it all comes down to is that the five of the Big Six publishers were sued for alleging fixing prices of books (<--illegal) with Apple. Three publishers settled and Penguin, Macmillan and Apple proceeded with the lawsuit.

Why is this important? Because the price fixing is supposedly in response to Amazon’s super-low prices that publishers have fought to raise (Melville House has a lot to say on the matter). So, now with the Penguin Random House merger, how will book prices be affected with the publisher or with Amazon? For Amazon pricing model info, read this WSJ article.

Although there is a lot of speculation that Penguin Random House has a bigger share of the book trade market, Amazon is still sitting pretty with 90 percent of the ebook market. With more leverage, the biggest publisher could negotiate better rates with Amazon, who pushes $9.99 pricing to attract Kindle readers.

That would mean higher priced ebooks for readers. But, the publishers and, hopefully, authors would receive a bigger cut of sales. All that would serve to boost the making and selling of books. More publisher insider reactions here.

Time will tell the ultimate impact of how the joining of publishers will impact ebook prices and how readers will react.

For you, the book-lover, how much is price a factor in buying books? Do you read mostly ebooks, physical copies, or a combination? And, anyone else, please weigh in on how you think the Penguin Random House merger will affect us all.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Anya E. J.

    My first question was actually how will it affect review copy requests, since Penguin has a pretty high threshold for bloggers (1,000 followers right?), whereas Random House doesn’t have such a high threshold stated on NG for example (though I can’t remember how often I get books from them). Do you think Penguin Random House will lean towards one end or the other or will the imprints just keep with what they had before?

    As to the pricing, I actively try to buy all my books from a local bookstore and use my eReader for eARCs and freebies, so ebook pricing never crosses my mind 😉

    • Anya, that thought did cross my mind as well! So far, it seems both companies are maintaining their existing social media accounts, and I’m wondering how long that will last. If it does last, maybe they really will operate as separate imprints/houses and keep separate standards. If not, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

      You’re lucky ebook prices going up isn’t a fear! 🙂