Penguin Random House, already the largest trade publisher in the country, has announced plans to buy Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS for about $2 billion. If the deal goes through, the Big Five publishers will become the Big Four — or, really, an industry version of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.
For book lovers, that development may feel like background noise. After all, when looking for something good to read, we choose authors and titles, not publishers.
But don’t turn the page on this news yet. No matter what soon-to-be-enriched executives say, the proposed consolidation of the publishing business is bad for authors, bad for readers and bad for American culture.