by Sal Robinson
It’s back to France for Flammarion: RCS MediaGroup, the Italian-based firm that owns Corriere della Sera and the publishing houses Bompiani, Rizzoli, and Adelphi Edizioni, has agreed to sell Flammarion to the legendary French publishing house Gallimard for €251 million, which is €50 million under its original asking price. RCS MediaGroup has struggled in recent years—for one thing, it has significant holdings in Spain and posted losses of €322 million in 2011, because of reduced ad sales, declining readership, and the recession. When it announced in March that Flammarion was for sale, there was an initial rush of interest and offers from houses like Albin Michel and Actes Sud. But the offers came in lower than expected and for a time it seemed like RCS might hold on to its French arm. Now, however, Gallimard’s bid has been accepted and the deal, pending antitrust authority approval, is on. The buy will make Gallimard-Flammarion—Gallion? Flammard?—the third largest publisher in France after Hachette and Editis.
Olivia Snaije at Publishing Perspectives summarizes the pluses and minuses of the new partnership:
“Flammarion would bring a whole element of popular literature to the highbrow Gallimard, as well as books on political and social sciences, art books and the very lucrative Casterman imprint, publisher of Tintin.
The less positive aspect of the deal for Gallimard would be a surplus of paperback ‘collections’ and imprints, of number of which are owned by both companies. Their distribution centers are geographically far apart, which would be problematic as well. Flammarion’s distribution set-up was what interested Albin Michel, which currently uses Hachette Livre as a distributor…but it is far less interesting to Gallimard.”
Sal Robinson is an editor at Melville House, and co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.