This is huge. Bertelsmann, who owns Penguin Random House, is buying out Simon and Schuster Publishing. The new entity will control an estimated one third of all books published in the USA. The good news is, they beat out Rupert Murdoch in their bid, but there is concern about a monopoly of book publishing. Monopolies are considered bad for freedom of the press, but it remains to be seen if the U.S. government will consider the new conglomerate to be a monopoly.
Book publishing has been undergoing mergers and buyouts for years. Small publishers who have been flexible and taking advantage of technologies have managed to thrive. Technology, service companies, and social media have helped make self-publishing easier for authors. While new authors cannot usually break into the biggest publishers without a literary agent, smaller publishers still offer direct submission opportunities for authors without an agent.
My own prediction is that publishing and book sales will present new challenges and changes once the pandemic is over and we’re able to walk into bookstores again and authors can return to in-person public appearances.