It was only last month when giants of the book world Penguin and Random House confirmed that they were merging their publishing efforts, forming a very large entity. During the negotiations, News Corp. was very interested in purchasing Penguin, or joining with Random House, but negotiations fell through.
This month, News Corp. are trying to purchase Simon and Schuster, the large publishing company currently owned by CBS. News Corp. already own Harper Collins Publishers Ltd and would be looking to merge the two companies to form an entity similar to the Penguin and Random House initiative.
All of this has significant impacts on the ebook reader market and is in many ways a direct result of the increase in popularity of digital books. What used to be known as the “big six” English language publishers has already decreased to the big three, namely Simon and Schuster, Random House and Penguin and Harper Collins. It seems likely to soon be the “big two” or even “big one” if News Corp. get their way.
Publishing houses need to combine and solidify their efforts in order to have any power or influence over major retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble who are increasingly making bigger profits with digital content. Amazon also makes significant income from its Createspace self-publishing initiative, so even independent writers wanting to publish a physical book are no longer reliant on a major publisher to get their work out there for people to purchase and read.
Many people do not realize exactly how come many of the physical books published are owned by such a small amount of companies; because the companies themselves have many smaller “imprints”, which are names given to attribute a certain type of book to a small company actually owned by a larger one. For example, Harper Collins owns Avon, Broadside, Ecco, Grafton, William Morrow, Voyager, Walden and several other imprints, including of course, both Harper and Collins.
One of the major selling points of the Kindle, Nook and Kobo shops are their increasing number of exclusive books not available through major publishers. Trust from the general public in larger corporations has been tarnished recently, especially with the many scandals surrounding News Corp. and people expressing distaste for exactly how much of the mainstream media is controlled by the company.
Many people are moving to independent publishers and original content and that is only likely to increase as the large publishers all join to become even larger, and as the number of highly successful independent digital books spreading through word of mouth continue to grow.
Of course there shall always be a place for large companies who publish and market books, but it is still likely that the digital retailers will hold more and more of the cards in their favour and the influence through price fixing and negotiations of large publishers will all but vanish. The plus side of this is that for the consumer, digital books should either go down in price, or at the very least, the actual authors of the book shall start to receive a lot higher rate of commission than the publishers, which shall in turn allow more original books to be written.