Simon & Schuster could be in new ownership by the end of the year. The two leading suitors are Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, though French publishing and media group Vivendi is also believed to be in the frame.
Simon & Schuster posted good results for the third quarter of 2020, with worldwide sales up 29% to $279m compared to the same period in 2019. The good results are partly due to the strong performance of Trump-related titles, among them Bob Woodward’s Rage and Mary Trump’s (the president’s niece) Too Much and Never Enough: How my Family created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.
Earlier this year S&S owners ViacomCBS announced it planned to sell the publisher. According to the New York Times the possible sale price is more than $1.7bn, and there is speculation that the deal will be concluded before Christmas.
Earlier this year HarperCollins worldwide CEO Brian Murray said the company was interested in buying the publisher, while at PRH’s parent company Bertelsmann, CEO Thomas Rabe told the UK’s Financial Times: “We’ve been the most active player on the consolidation of the book publishing market in the last 10 years. We combined Penguin and Random House very successfully to create by far the largest book publisher in the world—actually, the only global book publisher, [so] given this position, we would, of course, be interested in Simon & Schuster.”
In the interview Rabe dismissed antitrust concerns, saying “we don’t think it is an issue”. He added: “If you look at the market holistically, particularly the strength of Amazon, and it includes self-publishing and the like, we don’t think this will be an obstacle.”