More watching this space

I’m still away meeting a writing deadline, so this posting is another Mary, Queen of Scots notice that I am Not Dead Yet. Meanwhile, I offer you a droll note I posted on Facebook back on 10/3, with a chain of punning responses, and some sad facts about the publishing industry.

What’s in a name? I wrote:

— AZ: Just came across a political reporter named Simon Schuster (talking about the war in Ukraine on MSNBC). I see from the net that he mostly goes by Simon D. Schuster (rather than, say, Simon & Schuster), probably a wise decision.

A p.r. photo of the man, looking genial:

Simon D. Schuster, not any sort of publishing company, much less a gigantic one (photo: Bridge Michigan)

The crowd watching this then struck up a spirited game of pun tennis, bashing the items random, hall, brace, penguin, and house, extracted from the publishing-house names Random House, Prentice Hall, Harcourt Brace, Penguin Books, and, oh dear, Penguin Random House:

— Ned Deily: Lives in a random house near Prentice Hall?

— Robert Coren: …and wears a Harcourt brace.

— Aric Olnes: …and keeps a Penguin in the front yard.

— Henry Mensch > ND: a Penguin Random House!

Five publishing houses in four names. Though, frankly, I don’t know how to count the companies or the names, I just like the echo of Five Saints in Four Acts. A series of Wikipedia articles that hint at some of the complexity:

Simon & Schuster is an American publishing company and a subsidiary of Paramount Global. It was founded in New York City on January 2, 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. As of 2016, Simon & Schuster was the third largest publisher in the United States, publishing 2,000 titles annually under 35 different imprints. (Wikipedia link)

Penguin Books is a British publishing house. It was co-founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane with his brothers Richard and John, as a line of the publishers The Bodley Head, only becoming a separate company the following year. Penguin revolutionised publishing in the 1930s through its inexpensive paperbacks, sold through Woolworths and other high street stores for sixpence, bringing high-quality fiction and non-fiction to the mass market. Its success showed that large audiences existed for serious books. It also had a significant impact on public debate in Britain through its books on culture, politics, the arts, and science.

Penguin Books is now an imprint of the worldwide Penguin Random House (Wikipedia link)

Random House is an American book publisher and the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world The company has several independently managed subsidiaries around the world. It is [now] part of Penguin Random House

… Random House was founded in 1927 by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer, two years after they acquired the Modern Library imprint from publisher Horace Liveright, which reprints classic works of literature. Cerf is quoted as saying, “We just said we were going to publish a few books on the side at random,” which suggested the name Random House. In 1934 they published the first authorized edition of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses in the Anglophone world. Ulysses transformed Random House into a formidable publisher over the next two decades. (Wikipedia link)

Penguin Random House LLC is a multinational conglomerate publishing company formed in 2013 from the merger of Penguin Group and Random House.

In April 2020, Bertelsmann … became the sole owner of Penguin Random House.

… In November 2020, The New York Times reported that Penguin Random House was planning to purchase Simon & Schuster from Paramount Global for $2.175 billion. In November 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice sued to stop the deal on antitrust grounds. (Wikipedia Link)

Harcourt was an American publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. The company was last based in San Diego, California, with editorial / sales / marketing / rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida, and was known at different stages in its history as Harcourt Brace, & Co. and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

… Houghton Mifflin acquired Harcourt in 2007. It incorporated the Harcourt name to form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Wikipedka link)

— On October 13, 1913, law professor Charles Gerstenberg and his student Richard Ettinger founded Prentice Hall. Gerstenberg and Ettinger took their mothers’ maiden names, Prentice and Hall, to name their new company. Prentice Hall became known as a publisher of trade books by authors such as Norman Vincent Peale; elementary, secondary, and college textbooks; loose-leaf information services; and professional books. (Wikipedia link)

[As of 2020, Prentice Hall no longer exists under that name. After various involvements with Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Wolters Kluwer, and Pearson, among other publishing companies, the remaining bits were absorbed into Savvas Learning in 2020.]

I suspect that they’re all really branches of the Acme Co. Bearing in mind that Coyote is a trickster figure, open that book very gingerly; it just might blow up in your face.



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