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Valerie Peterson

Two Hurricanes Hit Book Publishing

By November 7, 2012

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Hurricane Sandy hit the same day as news of the tsunami-sized  merger of Random House and Penguin, the two largest trade book publishers in the U.S.

In a statement to RH authors, Markus Dohle, Chairman and CEO of Random House wrote, "Our most important mission will always be to publish the work you entrust to us for everyone, everywhere, in every format, and on every platform... In our partnership, we will be even better positioned to provide copyright protection and support your intellectual property."

Scott Turow, president of The Authors Guild, sees a downside for authors. "Survival of the largest appears to be the message here," he said in a statement released by the Guild. "Penguin Random House, our first mega-publisher, would have additional negotiating leverage with the bookselling giants, but that leverage would come at a high cost for the literary market and therefore for readers. There are already far too few publishers willing to invest in nonfiction authors, who may require years to research and write histories, biographies, and other works, and in novelists, who may need the help of a substantial publisher to effectively market their books to readers."

Manhattan's book publishing businesses--including publisher offices, Barnes & Noble headquarters building, and  many bookstores--were shuttered for part or all of the week as Hurricane Sandy's devastation crippled electrical power, public transportation, and phone and internet communications services especially in the NYC downtown areas.

The Random Penguin merger's effects on the landscape remain to be seen.

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