Is Publishing Consolidation Favorable to Tech Takeover?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Today’s feature story discusses the possible sales of French publisher Flammarion to rival Gallimard. The two have complementary lists and would create an even larger entity in Gallimard, which would likely absorb and, at to some extent preserve, the existing culture of Flammarion.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s publishing consolidations was viewed as suspect by the industry at large, as larger and larger conglomerates snapped up smaller competitors. Critics said that it would create a bland, undifferentiated publishing landscape, one dominated and controlled by a few major players.

Today, that picture looks much different, as even the largest publishing groups cannon match the deep pockets and growing influence of the tech giants. In these pages last month Martin Levin, a mergers and acquisition attorney, warned of more “creative destruction” to come and that the next bidder for your publishing house is more likely to be Google, Facebook or even Microsoft than another publisher. It’s a statement that seems prophetic in light of Microsoft’s recent $300 million + investment in Barnes & Noble’s NOOK platform (though it is not exactly a publishing house).

So tell us, has the attitude shifted? Is it now more favorable to see publishing houses subsumed by fellow publishers than going to an Amazon or Apple? Or does it just delay the inevitable…or perhaps even expedited the process by making publishers into fatter, more desirable prizes that acquisitive CEOs might more easily be able to convince their boards into signing off on an acquisition?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.