Monday, November 30, 2020

MediaWeek Report (Vol 13, No 15): Big Mergers - Simon & Schuster, S&P Global, Copyrights & Libraries, Pearson

Bertelsmann buying Simon & Schuster.

No doubt you've read about this acquisition and here are some of the articles.  Many are taking 'it's the Amazon problem' approach:

In The Atlantic: The merger isn't the gravest danger to the business.

NYTimes: The biggest publisher is about to get bigger

The Economist: A biblio-behemoth 

The New Republic: Heading towards monopolistic singularity

In other big media merger news:

WSJ - S&P Global agrees to buy IHS Markit for $44Billion combing two of the largest data suppliers to wall street firms.

Also Benzinga - The merger of the two companies will create a financial data behemoth.

I'm sure that's fine. 

According to Fortune a new copyright champion has arrived from the Internet Archive.  Are publishers on board with this I ask?

For Bailey, the debate is personal. Growing up in an artistic family of modest means on Long Island, she never encountered the Internet until arriving at Brown University in 1995. There, Bailey made friends with a circle of creative types thrilled by the culture and community they discovered on web, from the music-sharing bazaar Napster to blogging platform LiveJournal.

"The Internet seemed like this amazing new thing to distribute knowledge and information," she recalls.

After college, Bailey landed in the midst of New York's cultural elite with a job as an executive assistant to a creative director at magazine giant Conde Naste. But she soon became disillusioned, concluding the publishing industry prioritized money over artistic ideals.

 (Yes, Nast is incorrectly spelled).

Speaking of Random House, here is a good obit of Harold Evans - The Economist

People looked pityingly on him now. That was unbearable, so he left for the United States and a teaching job. His second wife, Tina Brown, soon joined him as editor of Vanity Fair, and he too took up the pen again, editing US News & World Report and founding Condé Nast Traveller before becoming, in 1990, president of Random House. There the copy on his desk was by Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, William Styron and Richard Nixon, as well as the businessmen, artists and poets he added to the list. The glittering Manhattan literary scene revolved around their garden brownstone, enjoyably so. America performed its reinventing magic, and in 1993 he became a citizen. Yet the country’s deepest effect on him had happened years before, when he visited on a Harkness fellowship in 1956. He was already in love with newspapers; with the smell of printer’s ink, and with Hollywood’s depiction of brave small-town newspapermen standing up to crooks. Papers in America might be slackly edited and poorly designed, but they showed a crusading desire for openness that was still rare in Britain.

Bookstores are struggling but rich folk are buying first editions (Bloomberg)

The market for extremely rare books has been healthy for years, dealers say, but quantifying its ups and downs is difficult, because “if you’re talking about a book with many comparables over time, you’ve missed the top of the market,” says Darren Sutherland, a specialist in Bonham’s rare books department in New York.

“It’s so anecdotal,” agrees Christina Geiger, the head of the books and manuscripts department at Christie’s New York. “Everything depends on the quality of the material.” 

Still, consensus among dealers is that the overall market has sustained itself even as the rest of retail has been thrown into turmoil, and that the peak of the market has soared past many participants’ expectations.

UK University staff urge probe into e-book pricing 'scandal' (BBC)

"It's a scandal. It's public money," she said. "Students are shocked when I tell them just how much it costs to get them their texts.

"People just assume we can get books for the prices they see on Amazon and Kindle. It just doesn't work like that for universities.

"The academic publishing business model is broken, and as you can see from the number of people who have signed the letter we think it is time for an investigation," she said.

Lectures are increasingly having to be designed around what texts are available and affordable, not what is best for learning, Ms Anderson said.

Pearson Creates New Direct-to-Consumer Division (Pearson)

Pearson, the world's leading learning company, today announces the creation of a new direct-to-consumer division as it looks to further strengthen its focus on building a direct relationship with learners around the world.

The new division will be co-led by two senior executives: Ishantha Lokuge joined Pearson from Shutterfly last year and now steps up to the role of Chief Global Product Officer and co-President, Direct-to-Consumer.

 As always, more in my flipboard magazine.

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