The proposed merger of Penguin and Random House was indeed completed last July, and the result is Penguin Random House (“the world’s first truly global trade book publishing company”). Meanwhile, the rumored talks between HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster apparently continue.
The new Big Five – including Hachette and Macmillan – publish approximately two-thirds of the titles released in the USA each year. The ongoing trend of consolidation is not good for writers (or agents, for that matter), since the new conglomerates effectively forbid (or at least severely restrict) their imprints from bidding against one another. Advances (for all save the Chosen Few “name” authors) are actually diminishing, as are the opportunities themselves.
Obviously some authors will gravitate toward “small” presses, though more and more will self-publish. The latter trend, in turn, is a mixed blessing at best. With so many more books, including e-books, published each year, the writer’s true talent will lie not with his/her skills at turning a phrase, but rather with the ability to “market” (presumably through publicity campaigns, social media networking, etc.).