A Random Killing

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NEW YORK: Continuing the conglomeration of all things media, German giant Bertelsmann AG snapped up America's largest publishing house Monday. Random House, which hires such pen-pushers as Michael Crichton, Norman Mailer and John Updike, was sold for an undisclosed sum. The big news for web users is that Bertelsmann, the world's third-largest media company (behind Time Warner and Disney), is in the midst of creating BooksOnline, a rival to Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble -- which will be a lot more comfortable with Random House's back catalog in the bag.

And it's not over yet. Bertelsmann has also been named as a possible buyer for part of the fragmenting Simon & Schuster, one of the largest remaining American-owned publishers. Tomorrow the world?