I finally broke down and created a “Mergers & Acquisitions” category, which if things continue will easily be one of the bigger categories on this blog.
In a deal valued at over $1 billion, John Wiley & Sons has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the outstanding shares of Blackwell Publishing (Holdings), Ltd. (Blackwell, Ltd., the library book vendor and retailer, remains a separate entity and is not part of the acquisition.) The two companies’ 2005 revenues combined were roughly $750 million.
Rene Olivieri, CEO of Blackwell Publishing and Wiley’s Steve Smith, senior vice president of international development and director of professional/trade publishing in Europe, will co-officiate the marriage of the two scholarly publishers with a combined output of over 1,250 peer-reviewed journals, as well as a broad collection of books.
Libraries and scholarly communication experts are, of course, reacting to this merger on several blogs and the Liblicense-L discussion list. As a technology person, I simply hope that the combined company will spend more of its time on content and less time on building discovery platforms. More to the point, I would love it if all publishers would rely on middleware providers and libraries to solve the content search and discovery problem, rather than building robust portals that are essentially publisher silos.
Of course, the separation of content from workflow and discovery would be obviated by any vertical integration of companies in the information space, something that I still think is possible. These billion-dollar deals can make the tens-of-millions-of-dollars deals in the library automation space look like small potatoes. Though I imagine Elsevier’s divestment of Endeavor will keep the content giants away from the ILS industry for some time, maybe forever.
For more information on the Wiley-Blackwell acquisition, Wiley is holding alive audiovisual webcast on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]