Publishing industry

The Penguin-Sower chimera that wasn't

This pumpkin season, readers and writers can celebrate the abortion of an ill-conceived chimera: the attempted merger of publisher Penguin Random House–the largest trade publisher in the US–with Simon & Schuster, a smaller but formidable rival. The US Justice Department sued a year ago to block the merger, arguing that the creation of a single publisher that controls half the US market would be anti-competitive. It would reduce publishing options for writers, competition for their works, and the variety of books available to readers.

This Halloween, Judge Florence Pan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed, and issued an order that blocks the deal. Here’s what might have happened, had she not:

This would have given us a plumped-up leader of the remaining Big Four:

The CEO of Bertelsmann, the German media group that owns Penguin Random House, said “The merger will be good …