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More Corporate Reshuffles

17 February 2003

The combining and recombining of the corporate assets of the book world, otherwise known as publishing companies, continues apace. In Germany Random House has considerably strengthened its position by acquiring Ullstein Heyne from the Axel Springer Group. If this deal, still to be approved by the German monopolies commission, goes through, it will give Random House 11% of German general publishing, but a whopping 30% of paperbacks.

The Grove Dictionaries of Art and Music, just put on the market by Macmillan UK, have been rapidly snapped up by Oxford University Press. Since 80% of current sales are to US libraries, the editorial department will be moving to New York, although, one assumes, without its editors.

The after-effects of bookseller Barnes & Noble's acquisition of publisher Sterling are still rumbling on in the States. The book chain's giant rival Borders has now announced that it will no longer, unless absolutely essential, stock Sterling titles.

Fortunately for the British firm Hodder Headline, owned in its turn by the bookseller W H Smith's, British bookselling chains are not taking the same approach. But Hodder Headline has just announced that, having given up the search for a suitable American publisher to buy, it will establish its own publishing company in the US. Although this is a low-cost and therefore low-risk option, Hodder Headline will need all their famous commercial nous to break into the tough American market.