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Behemoth of books

Publishers are always moaning about something. But with the Bertelsmann takeover of Random House they finally have good cause to complain

By Andrew Franklin   May 1998

Book publishers are the farmers of the media: they are always grumbling. If they aren’t complaining about too much rain in August, it is rising paper prices, the threat of CD-Roms and the internet-or simply too many books. The result is that when something serious does happen their cries, like Matilda’s, are ignored. And that is exactly what happened last month. Random House, the largest and most distinguished book publisher in the English language, was swallowed by Bertelsmann, an even larger German behemoth, and no one has batted an eyelid. Publishers have complained once too often.

Most takeovers pass unnoticed…

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