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  • Writer's pictureChristopher G. Moore


It appears that large American publishing houses are selling out to the Germans and French. In the culture where the bottom line dictates the fate of CEOs, the sad fact is there isn’t enough upside profit in publishing to keep investors happy. Slates’ Daniel Gross has written an article explaining why corporate America is surrendering the publishing of books to the Germans and French.

“For all the obvious reasons, sales of books aren't growing much in the United States. According to Simba Information, consumer book sales in the U.S. were $6.46 billion in 2005, up minutely from $6.44 billion in 2004. "Stagnant to low growth is the rule rather than the exception, across the board for the U.S. consumer book market," says Michael Norris, a senior analyst at Simba.

Now, $6.46 billion is nothing to sneeze at. But it's a rounding error compared with the sums generated by magazines, television, and movies. If you're a publicly held U.S. company, like Time Warner, you simply can't afford to keep carrying units—no matter how small—that don't offer the prospects of rapid growth. (Especially when you're fending off an assault from investor Carl Icahn, who yesterday released a voluminous report directing Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons to divide his empire into four parts.)”

No one has looked at the figures for public companies publishing in Asia. I suspect they are also ripe for take over offers. After the French and Germans finish off the Americans, they might move into China, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand.

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