Merger, He Wrote.

1986: Merger, He Wrote

Last autumn, while their Mets amazed us,
Doubleday completely fazed us.
The firm’s intrepid admiral, Nelson,
Ignored Dad’s warning: “Never sell, son.”
Learning that he sought a buyer,
Several firms essayed a flyer.
But the wealthy Menn of Bertels
Came on like a herd of turtles,
Snapped the house up in their bill
For just about five hundred mil.
Meanwhile, Penguin’s Peter Mayer
Became a major hard-soft player.
Rallying his Viking Norsemen
(After asking his of-course men),
Mayer bid for NAL.
The owners were disposed to sell,
For splendid profit them awaited
When these behemoths were mated.

With tax-law changes ‘round the bend,
Other houses joined the trend.
CBS unloaded Holt:
To Harcourt Brace the firm was solt.
And, glasses raised in loud “L’Chaim!”,
Scott Foresman joined the march of Time.
More turbulence: Congdon & Weed,
Atlantic Monthly Press, Dodd, Mead.

Thus in frenzied syncopation
Proceeds the trade’s consolidation.
Scores of famous names of yore
Have since succumbed to corporate war
Or publish books with but a semblance
Of their former independence:
Coward, Crowell, Playboy, Grosset,
Dutton, Scribner, Morrow, Fawcett,
Prentice-Hall and Dial and Dell,
Random, Bantam, NAL,
Lothrop, John Day, Quick Fox, Jove,
Lippincott, Pop Libe, and Grove,
Bobbs and World and Atheneum . . .
There’s no end to our Te Deum.
Huge conglomerates expanding
Till scarcely anyone’s left standing.

Is it possible we’re heading
Toward one great climactic wedding,
When all but two remain unmerged,
The rest absorbed, acquired, or purged?
The final stage of evolution,
The ultimate event of fusion,
A blinding flash, a cosmic bang,
The Yin becomes one with the Yang.
Emerging from the hot debris,
A publishing monopoly,
A monolith whose awesome goal
Is seizure of complete control
Of every stage of publication
From the author’s inspiration
To remaindering and pulping.
“Why,” I hear you loudly gulping,
“You’re just disseminating fear.
Surely that can’t happen here. . . . “

Copyright (c) 1986, 2008 by Richard Curtis

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