In a Zoom chat with agents Monday, Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Markus Dohle assured those in the meeting that, following the completion of the acquisition of Simon & Schuster, editors at both PRH and S&S will be free to bid on the same titles. “Competition for manuscripts won’t be impacted” by the merger, Dohle said.
Following the 2013 purchase of Penguin by Random House, editors at the publishers were allowed to bid against each other for the same book. The same formula will be in play following the S&S deal, Dohle said, emphasizing that S&S and PRH editors will also be able to bid against each other even if they are the only two players left in the auction. Agents and authors have been concerned that, once the S&S purchase is completed, there will be fewer major players able to acquire big-ticketed titles. Dohle's focus, he said, “is to win the book.” For auctions that reach a certain monetary threshold, the CEO will weigh in on the deal.
Dohle said that the bidding process is part of his strategy to keep PRH and S&S two distinct imprints. While he fully expects that making S&S titles available through PRH’s distribution system and supply chain will result in higher sales of S&S titles, he said his most ambitious goal post-merger is to keep investing on the creative side of the business. Part of that objective, Dohle said, will be to find the “perfect match” for a book and author with a PRH or S&S editor.
There have been no indications about when the government might approve the S&S purchase, which was first announced last November. Both PRH parent company Bertelsmann and S&S parent company ViacomCBS have said they still expect the deal to be approved before the end of the year.