Merger and acquisition activity should be brisk again in 1999, although the deals are unlikely to match the size of those done in 1998, predicted Martin Levin at a publishing seminar held by the law firm Cowan Liebowitz &Latman earlier this month. Levin anticipates that many deals this year will involve large companies that will divest themselves of assets that don't fit with their core businesses but will also make acquisitions that fill out a particular niche.

Already up for sale is Plenum's former trade book publisher, Da Capo Press, which Wolters Kluwer put on the block shortly after its acquisition of Plenum. Another company actively being shopped is Troll Communications; the decision to sell was made after Torstar discovered the book fair operation did not mesh with its other supplementary education properties. Several analysts also expect that Pearson will divest some of the professional publishing companies it acquired from Simon &Schuster. On the buying side, Levin predicted that Bertelsmann, following its purchase of Springer Verlag, "will be a major factor in the science and technical field."

Also at the seminar, Jerald Rachfal, business development manager for book publishing at Xerox Corp., said that there are about 20,000 DocuTech printers in operation worldwide. According to Rachfal, about 700 of those machines are involved with printing books for sale, while the remainder are used primarily to print materials for use in-house by different corporations.