Ian Whittaker

British media conglomerate Pearson (PSO) on Thursday confirmed press reports that the company is in talks to combine its consumer publishing business, Penguin, with Bertelsmann’s Random House.

“The two companies have not reached agreement and there is no certainty that the discussions will lead to a transaction,” read a note posted on Pearson’s website.

Despite the uncertainly of what the final deal might look like, the news that the Big Six of publishing could soon shrink to the Big Five sent the book industry into a state of frenzied self-examination.

Pearson, the British media conglomerate, said Thursday that it was in talks to combine its Penguin publishing house with Random House, owned by Bertelsmann of Germany.

The deal, if completed, would bring together two of the biggest book publishers in the world, uniting Penguin and its iconic orange logo with the owner of Crown Publishing and Knopf Doubleday. The combination would create a division with greater scale that could compete in a rapidly evolving e-book market.

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