An influential editor at Pantheon Books and later a founder of the New Press, Andre Schiffrin was an outspoken critic of the corporatization of publishing, which he saw as an attack on freedom of speech. With his death on Dec. 1 at 78, we lost one of the great publishing figures of the 20th century.
But his arguments still live — and they must. The merger between Penguin and Random House this year has created a giant company that will control 25 percent of the global book trade. The big five U.S. publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster — control roughly two-thirds of the U.S. consumer book publishing market. This narrowing of the industry to a few megapublishers threatens to marginalize novel ideas and place the world of books under corporate control.
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