Penguin Random House and ViacomCBS have entered into a definitive agreement for PRH to acquire Simon & Schuster for $2.175 billion in cash, ViacomCBS announced Wednesday.  The sale is the result of a competitive auction that involved multiple potential buyers; the price is considerably higher than the unit was expected to bring.  The acquisition is expected to close in 2021.  Simon & Schuster will continue to be operated as a separate publishing unit after the acquisition.

As a publisher, the combined entity will have roughly a 34% market share of the U.S. book market, according to NPD figures via the Wall Street Journal, with the second largest publisher, HarperCollins, holding only 11%.  PRH, which had a 25% market share prior to the acquisition, was created by the merger of Random House and Penguin in 2013 (see "Book Publisher Consolidation").  At the time of the merger creating PRH, one rationale was to increase the publishers’ weight against the growing market share of book retail held by Amazon, a situation which the intervening years have only exacerbated.

Both Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster operate distribution divisions that serve other publishers, including numerous companies targeting the geek market.  Here are the current distribution rosters of comics and game publishers served by the two companies, which include almost all U.S. manga publishers.

Simon & Schuster Distribution Services

  • Aconyte
  • Andrews McMeel
  • BOOM! Studios
  • Games Workshop
  • Humanoids
  • Insight Editions
  • Keenspot
  • Legendary Comics
  • Oni Press
  • Rebellion
  • Scout Comics
  • VIZ Media
  • Z2 Comics

Penguin Random House Publisher Services

  • Archie Comics
  • Dark Horse Comics
  • DC Comics
  • IDW Publishing
  • Kodansha Comics
  • NoBrow
  • Seven Seas Entertainment (effective July 1, 2021)
  • Square Enix Manga and Books
  • Titan Books
  • Vertical
  • Wizards of the Coast

Although Simon & Schuster will continue to be operated as a separate publishing unit, it’s not clear that the same will be true of their distribution operation, which was not mentioned in the announcement.