Summoned by the Ministry of Justice as a witness, the CEO of the HarperCollins group, Brian Murray, spoke in court on August 9. As a competitor to Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, his own group has reason to fear the reunion of these two, due to the implications for the market as a whole.
That said, HarperCollins himself would have followed the bidding for the purchase of Simon & Schuster, but Brian Murray confesses to having been ” shocked by the amount disbursed by PRH: $2.18 billion. And, he says, it was absolutely impossible to match that amount, ” far superior to everything he had seen so far.
However, HarperCollins is also backed by a large multimedia group, NewsCorp, with assets in the press, television or cinema: not really the independent publisher with limited means. So in fact, it seems that HarperCollins would be able to raise the stakes around the particularly high advances granted to certain authors, one of the concerns of the Department of Justice.
« I can’t speculate what the future holds “However, advanced Murray, quite easily, to avoid questions about the strategy of his group in the face of this potential publishing giant. The CEO himself felt that Simon & Schuster was about the same scale as his own group.
However, he is more measured than some of his counterparts, including Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, on the threat that Amazon would represent for publishers on their land. ” We have never come up against them in an auction “, he says. ” And we’ve never lost a book to Amazon, to my knowledge. He singled out romance as the area where Amazon was more aggressive.
During his hearing a few days ago, Markus Dohle, CEO of PRH, had on the contrary defended the merger, in particular, by presenting it as a necessary survival reflex. in an increasingly competitive environmentwhere the GAFAMs were becoming more and more enterprising.
According to Murray, on the other hand, it is quite unlikely that a new actor will soon join the Big Five – the five largest publishing groups in the United States – simply because ” a publisher’s catalog is essential to its stability and its ability to invest in new authors “. In other words, it would be necessary to acquire a little bottle before being able to claim to bid considerable sums on titles which, sometimes, turn out to be disappointing in terms of return on investment.
The publisher of top-selling authors
The economist consulted by the Ministry of Justice, Nicholas Hill, also returned to the various quantified arguments he had provided to the public body and which probably motivated the legal proceedings brought by the latter.
According to its projections, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster were respectively first and second in 12% of the bidding for the acquisition of the rights to publish books by authors particularly sellers. PRH would be in pole position in 37% of cases, Simon & Schuster in 12% of cases, and HarperCollins in 22% of cases. According to him, the most important advances of the two entities, PRH and S&S, will decrease by 6% on average in the event of a merger.
The economist’s estimates will undoubtedly be demolished in a few days by those of his defense counterpart, Edward Snyder.
Photography: Brian Murray, CEO of HarperCollins, ActuaLitté, CC BY SA 2.0