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Herb Simon purchases Kirkus book review journal

February 11, 2010

Shopping mall magnate, NBA team owner and now a major player in the publishing industry.

Herb Simon, co-founder of Simon Property Group Inc. and owner of the Indiana Pacers, has bought Kirkus Reviews from New York-based Nielsen Co., which said in December that it would close the magazine.

Terms of the deal announced Wednesday were not disclosed.

Kirkus, a journal of prepublication book reviews, often is used by librarians and booksellers when deciding how to stock their shelves.

For Liz Barden, owner of the independent Big Hat Books in Broad Ripple, Simon’s purchase of Kirkus is immense.

“Every bookseller, every librarian, every educator, and people that are generally interested in the world of books, don’t go a day without reading their Kirkus daily,” she said.

The venerable journal was founded in 1933 but lately had become threatened by lackluster sales and online price wars occurring within the book industry.

In a statement, Simon acknowledged both the challenges and opportunities presented by the acquisition.

“With the growth of e-books and e-reading devices, no one can really see the future of publishing. But turmoil like this creates opportunities,” he said. “At a time when even the definition of a book is changing, my love of books makes me want to be part of the solution for the book publishing industry.”

Simon is no stranger to books. He is co-owner of an independent bookstore in Montecito, Calif., and is described by those who know him well as a voracious reader.

Barden at Big Hat Books does not know him personally but said she’s assisted several of his friends who buy for him at her store.

“It’s always an enormous challenge for me to figure out what he hasn’t read,” she said. 

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