Big Publisher 4 Sale

Schuster 4 Sale

Oldpub shouldn't get too cocky about newpub authors' recent sales dip, especially since the Big Five New York publishers are about to become the Big Four.
ViacomCBS is preparing to sell its venerable publishing unit, Simon & Schuster, as the company re-evaluates all its assets in a fast-changing business landscape.
ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish told investors Wednesday that the company is taking a hard look at all operations. Simon & Schuster has generated inquiries from prospective buyers in the past, Bakish said during a Q&A held as part of Morgan Stanley’s annual investor conference in San Francisco.
Simon & Schuster “is not a core asset. It is not video-based. It does not have significant connection for our broader business,” Bakish said. “We have had multiple unsolicited inbound calls about that asset, and so as the market stabilizes, we are going to engage in a process” to examine strategic alternatives. ViacomCBS said publishing revenue in 2019 came to $814 million, down 1.3% from $825 million in the prior year.
As has been pointed out on this blog before, oldpub and their cronies in the media have been on eBook death watch for about a decade, hoping for the death of indie. The cognitive bias that defines establishment types has kept them from noticing that their own sales have been slipping for years, while newpub sales just saw their first contraction in 2019.

Also note that the linked article only mentions that S&S's revenues were down 1.3 percent from 2019. That detail suggests two things: 1) The same book market contraction that's affecting indies is hitting oldpub even harder, because 2) oldpub runs on razor-thin margins, so if their revenues fell by 1.3 percent, you know their profits plunged even further.
In a memo to staffers Wednesday, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said that the publishing house  has “a history of strong and long lasting relationships with our authors, and we will continue to bring important voices to readers around the world, both with our current publishing and our rich backlist of perenially favorite titles.’
Translation from corporatist Cultese: "Simon & Schuster's thralldom to the Death Cult compels us to keep shitting out books by pink-haired studies majors and Hillary Clinton that no one wants. Meanwhile, we'll keep clinging to the back catalog of public domain titles that bring us ever-diminishing returns."

Minus the nice shoes and pearl necklaces, oldpub managers would be right at home on some jungle island sacrificing children and building runways for planes that will never land.

In other words, if you're a newpub author feeling the pinch from the eBook contraction, crawling back to oldpub won't save you. It might be stuffy in the fallout shelter, but it's way hotter outside.

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  1. Brian

    Nate's opinion on the sale

    Question: will Simon and Schuster go bankrupt and be wound down?


  2. Of course they're slowly going broke. They only publish a few books a month and all from the type of writer. Oh, you wrote something different? Or you have a penis (and not a girl-penis)? Sorry, we can't publish that!

    Kindle might be full of crappy titles and have algorithm problems, but you can find something you'll like. (Might be a part time job right now.)

    1. I've been consulting other newpub authors behind the scenes on this problem. Everybody, including the high rollers, agrees that this crisis presents an opportunity for dedicated writers.

      The wheat's going to be sifted from the chaff. Prolific writers who produce quality work will come out on top.