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The Billion-Dollar Book Deal of the Century

Markus Dohle
Markus Dohle, C.E.O. of Penguin Random House. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
June 29, 2022

Way back in November 2020, a few weeks after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump to become the 46th President of the United States, the company then known as ViacomCBS, and now known as Paramount Global, announced the sale of its profitable and respected book publishing business, Simon & Schuster, to Penguin Random House, the industry behemoth, for $2.175 billion. Although relatively small by current deal standards, the proposed acquisition had a huge impact in the book publishing industry since it would combine the largest trade book publisher, P.R.H., and the third-largest trade book publisher, S&S, into one company, further cementing P.R.H.’s industry dominance with revenues of the combined businesses expected to reach $3 billion.

Along with the usual commentary regarding his excitement about the deal, Markus Dohle, the C.E.O. of Penguin Random House., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, told Publishers Weekly, the industry bible, that he didn’t expect “any antitrust issues to arise,” adding it was “a good day for books, book publishing and reading.”