DOJ Sues Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster; Alex Gino Novel Gets New Title, Cover; and More | News Bites

The Department of Justice is suing to stop the proposed merger between publishers Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster; Alex Gino's novel will officially get new title and cover; the Library of Congress has a new comics exhibit; and more in this edition of News Bites.

The Department of Justice is suing to stop the proposed merger between publishers Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster; Alex Gino's novel will officially get new title and cover; the Library of Congress has a new comics exhibit; and more in this edition of News Bites.

Department of Justice sues Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster over merger

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division has sued Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster to block the companies from completing a reported $2.175 billion merger. The DOJ civil lawsuit alleges that the merger would “likely harm competition in the publishing industry” and that loss of competition would undermine authors’ power to obtain advances and other services crucial for their books and careers.

In November 2020, Viacom announced the more than $2 billion deal to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House. With that purchase, the media empire would own approximately one-third of the books sold in the U.S. 

Included as defendants in the DOJ lawsuit are Bertelsmann and ViacomCBS, the parent companies of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.

The two publishers vowed to “vigorously” fight the lawsuit, saying in a joint statement that the publishing industry will still be “a vibrant and highly competitive environment” after the merger.

The antitrust lawsuit notes that Penguin Random House is already the world’s largest book publisher, while Simon & Schuster is fourth in the U.S. With the merger, the U.S. revenues would be twice that of their next closest competitor and the balance of competition among the Big Five publishers would be disrupted, the suit alleges.

New cover for Alex Gino novel

On April 22, Scholastic will release a new version of Alex Gino’s award-winning George with a new title and cover. The middle grade novel about a trans girl will now be called Melissa.

“Hurray! I can finally announce that Scholastic & I are officially changing the title of my first book to respect Melissa and all trans people,” Gino tweeted. “What we call people matters and we all deserve to be addressed in ways that feel good.”

Free stickers are also available to print out for anyone who wants to re-cover their current edition.

Library of Congress opens comics exhibit, “Geppi Gems”

A new exhibition at the Library of Congress explores how comic books have permeated popular entertainment and influenced U.S. culture, highlighting selections from the Stephen A. Geppi Collection.

“Geppi Gems” is open in the Library’s Graphic Arts Gallery through mid-March 2022. The exhibition now features 33 items from the collection of more than 3,000 cartoons, comic books, and related items in the Geppi Collection

A second rotation, with different items, is planned for spring 2022.

The wide range of rare comics on view span genres including Walt Disney’s iconic characters, westerns, superheroes, science fiction, horror, sports, music, and entertainment. Characters spotlighted include Popeye, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Black Panther. Pop culture is represented in posters, magazines, and collectibles promoting musicians through graphic art, including Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, The Jackson 5, and others.

Anyone in DC who plans to visit can reserve free, timed tickets. The online version can be found at

Scholastic announces new reading award

Scholastic and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) announced the creation of the Richard M. Robinson Literacy Champion Award. Named in honor of the late Scholastic Chairman and CEO, Richard (Dick) Robinson, this new annual award recognizes a CGCS member school district for demonstrated progress in advancing reading achievement.

The School District of Philadelphia is this year’s inaugural winner. The district chose General George G. Meade School to receive the grand prize, which includes a school library “renovation” with a donation of over 6,000 books, short reads for Guided Reading, instructional resources from Scholastic Education Solutions, and more.

Gale launches Gale Presents: Imago

Gale has launched Gale Presents: Imago, an online social and emotional learning (SEL) and career readiness platform available to K–12 schools. In partnership with IMAGO, the offering provides digital lessons in SEL, career readiness, and soft skills and lets schools infuse video-based SEL content into any subject for grades 5 to 12. The goal is to improve students’ emotional intelligence in the classroom and help them thrive in their lives and careers after graduation.

Discovery Education’s latest virtual field trip

Discovery Education’s latest virtual field trip series is Voices of U.S., which introduces students to the principles, people, and perspectives that shape our nation and the importance of participation in civic life. The first installment for upper elementary and middle grade students, Voices of U.S.-Why We Serve, teaches about the importance of service and celebrates of Veterans Day. The Voices of U.S. virtual experience premieres on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. ET.

The Voices of U.S.-Why We Serve is accompanied by an instructional resource for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 created by Discovery Education’s expert Curriculum Team. In addition, the segmented production allows teachers to view the entire program with their classrooms as a single live event or use selected segments for specific lessons. The special will also air exclusively on Discovery Family and in Spanish on Discovery Familia.

DK and Kahoot! partner

Global publisher DK has partnered with Kahoot! to improve digital learning.

DK Kahoot! has created quizzes to accompany the English for Everyone language learning course, with more coming in the future based on popular DK books.

In the last year, 300 million games have been played on the Kahoot! platform, with 1.9 billion participating players in more than 200 countries.

Simon & Schuster extends online book reading guidelines

Simon & Schuster has extended its permission for online story time and classroom read-aloud videos through Dec. 31, 2021. Educators and public librarians needing resources and support while navigating distance learning can visit the publisher’s The Book Pantry website for reading groups and teaching guides, author studies, and more.

Scholastic Book Clubs and James Patterson Launch “The United States of Readers”

Scholastic Book Clubs announced launched The United States of Readers, a classroom program dedicated to bridging the gap of literacy inequity. Created by Scholastic Book Clubs and funded in its pilot year with a $1.5 million donation from bestselling author James Patterson, The United States of Readers will provide 32,000 pre-K to 8 students in 1,500 classrooms from all 50 states, as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico. The participating schools represent rural, suburban, and urban areas, are at least 75 percent Title I, and do not currently participate in Scholastic Book Clubs.

Identical to the original Scholastic Book Clubs model with one big exception—there will be no prices listed for the books. Every child will have an opportunity to participate, choosing two books they want to read and personally own, five times a year at no cost to students, families, or schools.

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