By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief
Consolidations among the world’s biggest publishing companies has become commonplace, with Penguin joining Random House two years ago and Random House absorbing Spain’s Santillana’s trade divisions earlier this year. Now, the literary agenting world has it’s own mega-merger, as Barcelona-based literary agent Carmen Balcells — the super agent of the Spanish-language literary world — has announced a memorandum of understanding to merge her agency with that of Andrew “The Jackal” Wylie. Together the agencies will represent more than 1,000 writers and will represent 13 Nobel Prize winners between them.
According to El Pais, the deal between the two agencies allows for a future purchase, most likely by Wylie of the Balcells Agency, or a joint venture. The agency will be called Balcells and Wylie.
Balcells and Wylie have fought over authors in the past, most recently Robert Bolano, sometimes coming to blows in the press.
Yesterday, it was all kisses and roses. “We have followed and admired each other for years, and we want to work closely from now. Our goal is to give greater strength, scope and duration to the representation of clients, and we are excited and fully committed to the opportunities before us,” said the two agents in a joint statement.
“The impact of the merger will be to empower the top authors, who will need powerful representation to maintain their status with the increasingly powerful global companies that influence publishing and bookselling decisions,” Spanish publishing consultant Javier Celaya told Publishing Perspectives.
Rumors of the merger have circulated for months, with some claiming that Balcells, now 84, would only agree to such a merger as a last ditch effort to maintain protections for her clients in light of failure to find a suitable successor In 2010, Balcells sold her archive to the Spanish Ministry of Culture for five million euros.
Among the authors whose rights are represented by the newly-merged agency are Gabriel García Márquez, Orhan Pamuk, Kenzaburo Oe, Czeslaw Milosz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Philip Roth, Milan Kundera, Roberto Calasso, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Salman Rushdie, Roberto Bolaño, Isabel Allende, Amos Oz, Mo Yan and many others.