HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster reportedly in “preliminary” merger talks

Just three weeks after Random House and Penguin announced that they will merge to form the world’s largest book publisher, News Corp (s NWS), which owns the book publisher HarperCollins, is reportedly in talks to acquire CBS’s Simon & Schuster (s CBS). The “preliminary” talks were reported by the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal, which says News Corp had “expressed interest in” buying Simon & Schuster.

Unidentified sources “cautioned that a deal isn’t imminent.”

Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins declined to comment.

It seems clear that News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch is in a book publisher-buying mood: News Corp. had previously expressed interest in buying Pearson’s Penguin, right after Random House and Penguin’s talks to merge became public. News Corp is in the process of spinning off its publishing unit, including HarperCollins, into a separate company, and Murdoch recently said that the company will provide more details about the spinoff “by the end of the calendar year.”

Simon & Schuster’s revenues totaled $787 million in 2011, and according to CBS’s most recent earnings report, digital sales (ebook and audiobooks) now make up 21 percent of the publisher’s total sales. News Corp has not released details about HarperCollins revenues in recent years.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Thomas Bethge