Monday, October 29, 2012


In the midst of the hurricane this afternoon I got an email announcing the merge of Random House and Penguin. What? I knew nothing about this. I've worked with Penguin in the past: my first two books were with them... and my editor from Harcourt moved over there. And, of course, half of my nonfiction books are with Random House. So I'm very curious and concerned. What does this mean about publishing and editors' jobs?

I read this on the blog Digital Book World:

Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die: What the Random/Penguin Merger 

Though it’s clear that merger discussions have been under way for some time, it’s still a long way from the exchange of stock or cash to the shutdown of an imprint or issuance of a pink slip to a sales rep. ...Negotiations must take place before departments are closed and people let go. Those decisions will be delegated to middle management executives who will be consulted but who themselves may be candidates for elimination...

When it does happen, in my experience the last people to get the ax are authors. That is not necessarily because the management of publishing companies is compassionate (though I believe it is). It’s because management is mindful (thank God) that the whole apparatus of the publishing industry is fed by authors, and there is great reluctance to slaughter the geese that lay the eggs...

In time, however, the grim reaper (old-timers referred to him as The Turk) will aim his scythe at editors, imprints and lists. Authors will then realize that where there were three or four markets there are now two or one. Aside from the human toll, injury to literature itself will be inflicted as the Darwinian struggle rewards the most commercial authors and makes it even harder for newcomers to gain a toehold. And that in turn will fuel the self-publication and alternate-publishing trend that is already well under way. The e-book and print on demand businesses, already prospering from that trend, will continue to thrive.

To read the whole article go here:


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