book publishing: Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions

Publishing traditionally had been an industry of numerous, small, family-owned firms. After the 1960s, however, publishing houses were regularly purchased by and consolidated with other companies. For example, Rinehart & Company and the John C. Winston Company were purchased by Henry Holt & Company to form Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc. In addition, publishing firms were being taken over by conglomerates, e.g., Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., was purchased by the Columbia Broadcasting System; in 1986, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (now Harcourt, Inc.) bought the educational and publishing division of CBS Inc., which included Holt, Rinehart & Winston; Henry Holt & Company was then sold to the Holtzbrinck group of Germany (Holtzbrink now also owns St. Martin's and Macmillan). Time Warner, the world's largest entertainment and media company, owned Little, Brown & Co., Warner Books, Time Life Books, Book of the Month Club, and many popular magazines, but over a period of years the book imprints were sold off to Bertelsmann and other companies, and the magazines became an independent corporation, Time Inc., in 2014. Time Inc. was subsequently sold to Meredith Corporation, a large magazine publisher, in 2018.

Some publishing houses became part of larger corporations in other countries. Rupert Murdoch's Australia-based News Corporation acquired HarperCollins (formerly Harper & Row), William Morrow, and Avon, plus many other American, Australian, and British publications as well as television and radio stations. Doubleday, along with its houses Delacorte and Dell, was bought by the German firm Bertelsmann and merged with Bantam; when Bertelsmann later (1998) acquired Random House, it became the largest U.S. trade publisher. Robert Maxwell of England bought Macmillan (U.S.), the New York Daily News, and many other publishing enterprises. Maxwell's empire collapsed in the early 1990s, and Macmillan (U.S.) was eventually acquired by Viacom, which already owned Simon & Schuster. Viacom (which also owned Prentice Hall, Scribner, and other companies) later (1998) sold many of these publishing operations to the Pearson Group of England. In 2001 Pearson largely sold the rights to the Macmillan name in the United States to Holtzbrinck, which also owned the British publisher Macmillan. Pearson and Bertelsmann merged their trade publishing houses in 2013 to form Penguin Random House, which in fall 2020 purchased Simon & Schuster, pending regulatory approval.

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Journalism and Publishing