Publishing Industry News: Dec. 18, 2020

Curious about what’s happening in the world of books and publishing? Catch up on the biggest acquisitions, news, adaptations and more here!

• The Big Five publishers have now become the Big Four. Penguin Random House (PRH) – the nation’s largest publishing group – has bought Simon & Schuster (SS), the third largest. The price tag? It was $2.175 billion. Because of this sale, approximately one-third of all books sold in America will now come from one corporation: Bertelsmann. In addition, because the now-combined shares of PRH and SS are so high, the deal also raises antitrust concerns and may attract attention from the U.S. Department of Justice.

• While cleaning out the attic in her family’s home in 2010, Edie Vonnegut made a huge discovery: a box filled with love letters from her father, Kurt Vonnegut, to her mother, Jane Vonnegut. Now readers can savor those missives in a new book, Love, Kurt: The Vonnegut Love Letters, 1941-1945.

• and Merriam-Webster have both revealed their word of the year, and their choice should come as a shock to no one in 2020: They both chose “pandemic.”

• Waterstones has selected Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell as its Book of the Year.

• Amazon doesn’t allow in-house published e-books to be purchased by libraries for patron checkout – a ban that librarians and advocacy groups are pushing the company to end. Fight for the Future has started a petition calling for Congress to “pursue an antitrust investigation and legislative action against Amazon for its ban on selling e-books to libraries.”

• In 1930, J.R.R. Tolkien moved into 20 Northmoor Road in Oxford, where he wrote The Hobbit. Project Northmoor, created by author Julia Golding, is crowdsourcing to raise $6 million to purchase the home and convert it into a literary center. • This year’s Barnes & Noble Book of the Year – whose honoree is selected by company employees – went to World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil.