The exclusive distributor of DC Comics, Dark Horse and IDW graphic novels to bookstores, Penguin Random House has just bought the exclusive distributor of Boom Studios, Oni Press and Rebellion to US bookstores, Simon & Schuster. Obviously, there are other factors involved as well, but that's the comic book relevance right there. Because ViacomCBS has agreed to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for more than $2 billion, creating a megapublisher – and distributor.
Penguin Random House is already the largest book publisher in the United States, owned by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. Simon & Schuster is the third largest publisher- their combined size will dwarf all others and may generate antitrust concerns. This follows other moved that began with 2013's merger of Penguin and Random House in 2013, News Corp buying Harlequin, Hachette buying Perseus Books and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt looking to sell its trade publishing division.
Simon & Schuster was first put up for sale in March this year, before the pandemic hit, but still made a $115 million profit up to September this year. Originally a crossword publisher in 1924, it grew into a major publisher with many famous names under its belt. But the sale by ViacomCBS will help that business with its current $21 billion debt, and also align Simon & Schuster with a business that actually values books.
It might also spark another round of purchasing. If AT&T wanted to offload DC Comics to someone who actually wanted to publish comics, might Penguin Random House be interested? Other businesses that were interested in Simon & Schuster included Hachette co-owner Vivendi, as well as News Corps and Bertelsmann. If they were open to this, might they be open to other purchases?
The pandemic has shaken up all sorts of businesses, and buying and selling is the next step.