Two of the biggest publishing companies, Pearson of the UK and Bertelsmann of Germany are to form a joint venture by merging their Penguin and Random House imprints. Bertelsmann will have a majority stake in the venture of 53% and Pearson will have 47%.
The Penguin imprint, with a turnover of just over £1bn, has an 11% share of the English language book publishing market. Random House has a 15% share, with turnover of around £1.5bn. The new ‘Penguin Random House’, as it will be called, will have nearly 26% of the market, which should give it considerable market power to combat various threats in the book publishing market.
One threat is from online retailers, such as Amazon, Apple and Google, which use their countervailing power to drive down the prices they pay to publishers. Another threat is from the rise of electronic versions of books. Although e-books save on printing costs, competition is driving down prices, including the prices of paper books, which may make publishers more reluctant to publish new titles in paper form.
There has been a mixed reception from authors: some are worried that an effective reduction in the number of major publishers from six to five will make it harder to get books published and may squeeze royalty rates; others feel that an increased market power of publishers to take on the online retailers will help to protect the interests of authors
The following videos and articles look at the nature of this joint venture and its implications for costs, revenues and publishing more generally.
Videos and webcasts
Penguin and Random House merge to take on digital giants Channel 4 News, Matthew Cain (29/10/12)
Penguin and Random House confident merger will be approved BBC News, Will Gompertz (29/10/12)
Penguin Books and Random House to merge BBC News, Matt Cowan (29/10/12)
Random House and Penguin merge to take on Amazon, Apple Reuters, Kate Holton (29/10/12)
Pearson’s Penguin joins Random House Independent, Amy Thomson and Joseph de Weck (29/10/12)
Penguin and Random House sign merger deal Financial Times, Gerrit Wiesmann and Robert Budden (29/10/12)
March of the Penguin The Economist, Schumpeter blog (29/10/12)
Penguin chief: News Corp can’t derail Random House deal The Guardian, Mark Sweney (29/10/12)
Penguin and Random House confident merger will be approved BBC News, Anthony Reuben (29/10/12)
And so I bid Penguin a sad farewell Independent, Andrew Franklin (29/10/12)
- How does a joint venture differ from a merger?
- What types of economies of scale are likely to result from the joint venture?
- How are authors likely to be affected?
- Will the joint venture benefit the book reading public?
- The relationship between publishers and online retailers can be described as one of ‘bilateral oligopoly’. Explain what this means and why it is impossible to determine an ‘equilibrium’ wholesale price of books in such a market.
- What criteria would the competition authorities use to assess whether or not the joint venture should be permitted to proceed?
- What is likely to be the long-term outlook for Penguin Random House?
- Assess the benefits and costs of a News Corporation takeover of the Penguin division? This was an alternative offer to Pearson had it not gone with Bertelsmann. (News Corp. has the Harper Collins imprint.)
Nokia and Microsoft have announced that they are to form a strategic alliance. This will see Nokia using Windows Phone as the software platform for its smartphones. This follows problems with Nokia’s own Symbian software and the success of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android software.
Recognising the depth of Nokia’s problems, its new boss, Stephen Elop, sent a memo to staff with apocalyptic warnings. He likened Nokia’s position to one of standing on a burning oil platform about to be engulfed with flames.
So is the alliance with Microsoft the way out of Nokia’s problems? Will it bring problems of its own? The following articles look at the issues.
Nokia to Use Microsoft Software in Smartphones New York Times, Kevin J. O’Brien (11/2/11)
Nokia, Microsoft to Join Forces to Challenge Apple Dominance Bloomberg, Diana ben-Aaron (11/2/11)
Nokia: ELOP’s challenge Bloomberg, Martin Garner (11/2/11)
Nokia falls into the arms of Microsoft The Economist: Newsbook blog (11/2/11)
Nokia and Microsoft sign strategic tie-up Guardian, Graeme Wearden (11/2/11)
Nokia and Microsoft form partnership BBC News (11/2/11)
Is the Nokia/Microsoft horse a stallion or a tired nag? BBC News blogs: Peston’s Picks, Robert Peston (11/2/11)
Microsoft and Nokia announce my dream partnership so why aren’t you all happy? ZDNet (CBS), Matthew Miller (11/2/11)
- What is meant by a strategic alliance? What forms can a strategic alliance take?
- For what reasons are Microsoft and Nokia forming a strategic alliance?
- How does Nokia hope to benefit from the alliance?
- How does Microsoft hope to benefit from the alliance?
- Why is Nokia’s share of world profits in the mobile handset market much less than its share of total handset sales (see The Economist article above)? Conversely, why has Apple such a large share of world profits in the handset market (just over 50%) and yet only a tiny market share?
Many industries are struggling in the current climate and, in particular, car sales have been at an all time low. General Motors was the biggest car company in the world, but recently we have seen them becoming the biggest industrial bankruptcy, which will have consequences for many car manufacturers around the world. UK car sales were 25% lower in May 2009 than at the same time last year and Chrysler will sell most of their assets to Fiat when they form a strategic alliance in a bid to help them exit bankruptcy protection.
The troubles of the carmakers have passed up the production chain to automotive suppliers, component manufacturers and engineering firms, and down the chain to the dealerships at a time when consumer confidence has taken a knock. The following articles look at some of the recent developments in the car industry and consider their likely economic impact.
UK new car sales 25% lower in May BBC News (4/6/09)
Creditors cry foul at Chrysler precedent The Wall Street Journal, Ashby Jones, Mike Spector (13/6/09)
The decline and fall of General Motors The Economist (4/6/09)
GM pensioner’s fears for future BBC News (1/6/09)
Opel staff face wait for job news BBC News (2/6/09)
From biggest car maker to biggest bankruptcy BBC News (1/6/09)
GM sales executive lays out company’s direction Chicago Tribune, Bill Vidonic (14/6/09)
Chrysler and Fiat complete deal BBC News (10/6/09)
Fiat gambles on Chrysler turnaround Telegraph, Roland Gribben (1/6/09)
Obama taskforce faces Congress over car industry rescue Times Online, Christine Seib (10/6/09)
Has pledge of assistance revved up the car industry? EDP24, Paul Hill (10/6/09)
- What is a strategic alliance and how should it help Chrysler?
- What are some of the methods that governments have used to help stimulate the car industry? Consider their advantages and disadvantages.
- Think about the consequences beyond the car industry of the decline of General Motors. Who is likely to suffer? Will there be any winners?
- General Motors was established in 1908. How were they able to expand so quickly and what do you think are the main reasons for their current decline?
- The article in The Economist suggests that, despite the current problems in the car industry and the global recession, selling cars will never really be a problem. What do you think are the reasons for this?