The Penguin-Random House merger: 3 takeaways
The new deal will produce the world's largest book publisher, as the industry tries to stave off online retailing giant Amazon.
Penguin and Random House have announced that they will merge to create the world's largest publisher -- dubbed Penguin Random House -- accounting for about 25% of the world's books.
The move is seen as a direct response to online behemoth Amazon (AMZN), whose ruthless price-cutting strategy has cast an ominous shadow over multiple industries.
Indeed, some say it's long past time that publishing houses joined forces to buttress their embattled industry, and there were even reports that HarperCollins, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWSA), had offered a competing bid for Penguin when rumors of the Penguin-Random House merger first surfaced.
Here, three takeaways from the merger:
1. Amazon faces stiffer competition
Joining forces will allow Penguin and Random House to "achieve the sort of scale that will enable them to resist Amazon's inexorable downward pricing pressure on books, especially e-books," says Jeff Bercovici at Forbes.
Amazon's super-low prices on traditional books have hobbled brick-and-mortar bookstores (recently sending Borders into bankruptcy), once the main retail venue for publishers. In addition, armed with its popular Kindle e-reader, Amazon has a dominant presence in the growing e-book industry, in which it also benefits from very low prices. By pooling their resources and cutting overlapping costs, Penguin and Random House hope to better compete in the pricing wars.
2. The industry will continue to consolidate
"For now, it gives publishers safety in numbers as they continue to be battered" by Amazon and other online retailers, says Alexander Nazaryan at the New York Daily News.
Publishers are already "consolidating around fewer, more powerful chains that are often focused on marketing a handful of top titles," says Eric Pfanner at The New York Times.
As long as antitrust regulators don't object, "it is likely that News Corp will seek another suitor for HarperCollins, like Macmillan, Hachette, or Simon & Schuster, the three remaining major publishers," says Jeremy Greenfield at Forbes.
3. The merger is a bad deal for readers
The merger "may stave off the demise of publishing for some time," says Nazaryan, but "it does nothing good for readers and writers." Consolidation will undoubtedly lead to layoffs and fewer book imprints. Marketing budgets will focus more exclusively on big-name authors like John Grisham, while less well-known authors will find it harder to get published.
"So let the handwringing begin," says Michael Levin at The Huffington Post. "The collapse of a once-proud industry has taken a giant step forward."
More from The Week:
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.