Is The Sky Falling?

December 1998
by Nick Weir-Williams, Northwestern University Press

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Merger Mania

Even by the standards of the last 10 years, an extraordinary series of takeovers occurred in the early days of November-certainly from the viewpoint of my own history in publishing. My first publishing company had long since disappeared into the academic publisher Routledge. Now Routledge itself was taken over by the venerable English firm of Taylor and Francis, which celebrated its centenary by buying a publisher with an equally distinguished history (and twice its size). Two days later, my second publishing company-which had been taken over by an entrepreneur charged with lots of venture capital money and which had itself been sold to the French publisher Hachette the month before-bought another distinguished UK company, Cassell, which itself had swallowed up a group of smaller companies in the early ’90s.

The only thing that made these purchases unusual was that no German companies were involved in any of these deals. Random House, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Holt, St. Martin’s, and Farrar Straus Giroux are all now German-owned. British companies hold Putnam, Viking, and Addison Wesley, and an Australian company controls HarperCollins.

Then two more days later came the news of Barnes & Noble buying Ingram-not a month after they had themselves sold 50% of Barnesandnoble.com to Bertelsmann. By the time this article appears, this development will probably be old news, surpassed by yet more megadeals.

Within Chicago, a group of us had started an Illinois B…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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