More recently, Simon & Schuster has become known for a raft of best-selling tomes about the Trump administration, including “Rage,” a brutal assessment of Mr. Trump’s failures by the journalist Bob Woodward, and “Too Much and Never Enough,” a tell-all by his niece, Mary L. Trump. It also published “The Room Where It Happened,” an account of President Trump’s foreign policy escapades by John Bolton, his former national security adviser, and “Hoax,” an examination of the president’s relationship with Fox News, by the CNN media reporter Brian Stelter.
Mr. Murdoch’s HarperCollins division has also taken a bite out of the Trump presidency, publishing “The Case for Impeachment,” by the historian Allan J. Lichtman, and “Trumpocalypse,” by the journalist David Frum. It also released “The Man Who Sold America,” a scathing critique of his time in office by the MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid.
Mr. Trump, despite losing his campaign for a second presidential term, received more than 72 million votes and could field several big-dollar offers for a book. A deeper-pocketed Simon & Schuster could make a more competitive bid for a Trump book, according to two of the people.
The company has proved durable, even during the recent downturn. Simon & Schuster’s revenue rose 8 percent to $649 million this year through September. Profit before tax during the same period rose 6 percent, to $115 million.
Should a major publisher win the auction, Simon & Schuster is likely to undergo staff cuts. Departments such as human resources and finance are often slimmed down after a big merger. It is not clear how a deal might affect high-level positions at the company. Jonathan Karp, who was named Simon & Schuster’s chief executive this year after the sudden death of Carolyn Reidy, could be relegated to a lower role or be forced out. Not long after he took over, Mr. Karp named Dana Canedy, a former journalist and administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, as publisher of its namesake imprint, putting a Black woman in charge of one of the biggest publishing houses.
Any merger agreement would also have to undergo regulatory scrutiny. A combination with either Penguin Random House or HarperCollins, the two largest book publishers in the country, could raise questions in Washington. Penguin Random House’s sales exceeded $4 billion last year. Annual sales at HarperCollins, which reports its fiscal year at the end of June, were about $1.7 billion.
Additional reporting by Alexandra Alter.