March 21, 2019

Disney inches toward world dominance with Fox acquisition


All around the world / we’ll go marching / who’s the leader of the club / that’s made for you and me / M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Yes, capitalism’s favorite anthropomorphic mouse continues to live up to his promise of subjugating us under his media empire, having now acquired FOX Media for the tidy sum of $71 billion dollars. You may ask yourself, as I am asking myself, yeah, so what, what does this have to do with books?

Well, Disney now controls approximately 75% of the film industry, meaning that a lot more crappy books will be adapted for film while a lot of better books will never be brought to screen. Presumably. But then Miramax, when it was owned by Disney, had a publishing outfit that brought out books by, among other authors, Helen DeWitt and Martin Amis. Chances of film adaptations of The Last Samurai or Experience were at an all-time high then, simply because in the weirdest of worlds, they were kinda technically published by Disney. And um, Harvey Weinstein.

Then again, Weinstein sold Miramax to Disney, and its book division was eventually absorbed by Hyperion Books—once Disney’s official book publishing arm—which I guess, maybe, published literary fiction (but mostly published YA and Anthony Kiedis). Weird bedfellows for DeWitt and Amis. But then again, Disney sold Hyperion to Hachette who created from its backlist a new imprint Hachette Books, which doesn’t seem to publish much fiction at all. DeWitt, extendedly, went out of print. Amis, briefly, went out of vogue.

Wait, where I am going with this?

Fox, we were talking about Disney’s acquisition of Fox…

Right, right. So yeah, Disney now owns Fox, but no longer has a serious stake in book publishing. DeWitt and Amis are now with other publishers, neither of which are Hachette Books.



Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.