The 6 mainstream presses in the United States are about to be reduced to 5. Random House and Penguin have decided to merge in an effort to combat the growing power of Internet retailers, primarily Amazon. The presumption is that two large houses combined will emerge more competitive than before. The new company will account for one in every four books sold in the United States. (The Week, 11/912, pg 38.) History, however, gives no assurance that the merger will work and its effect upon writers is yet to be seen.
One outcome likely is that fewer midlist authors will be published to allow this mega company to focus on top moneymakers. That means perfectly good authors will be left to paddle for themselves swelling the roster s of the smaller presses and crowding out authors whose reputations are less well-established. Another consequence is that the ranks of self-publishing authors will grow, much to the delight of retailers with self-publishing branches like Amazon.
A possibility does exist, however, that the reverse could happen. Because the newly combined publishing house will possess an enviable catalogue of profitable books, ranging from Brothers Karamazov to Fifty Shades of Grey to enhance its income stream, the new company might choose to add more and not fewer midlist writers to it ranks. (Ibid, pg 38) This latter outcome would be desirable because for good or ill, the main stream houses do set a standard, if not for excellence, then for popular taste. Driving more seasoned authors into self-publishing would be no service to the reading public who are already overwhelmed by some self-publishing folks who consider themselves writers merely because they have a plot that has a beginning, middle and an end.
(Courtesy of tongstromberg.com)