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Horror creator Stephen King testifies towards $2bn Penguin merger

The proposed deal may see the most important guide writer, Penguin, take over Simon & Schuster, which is the fourth largest.

By Bloomberg

Best-selling horror creator Stephen King testified towards Penguin Random House’s proposed $2.18 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster, saying it will weaken competitors within the publishing business.

The “Carrie” and “It” creator took the stand Tuesday as a authorities witness within the Justice Department’s antitrust go well with in search of to dam the deal. He mentioned consolidation within the publishing business over the course of his profession has led to decrease pay for authors.

“It becomes tougher and tougher for writers to find enough money to live on,” King testified in federal courtroom in Washington.

If accomplished, the deal would see Penguin, the most important guide writer and a unit of Bertelsmann SE, take over Simon & Schuster, the fourth largest. The authorities argues the mixture will result in decrease advances for authors and fewer decisions for customers.

Squeezed Independents

King’s personal books are largely printed by Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint. He mentioned he stayed with them as a result of they’d printed authors he idolized and had been “muscular” of their dealings with guide sellers.

But a lot of King’s testimony centered on difficulties he perceived for much less well-known authors. He mentioned the 5 largest publishers have largely squeezed out unbiased outlets, making it tougher for fledgling authors to make it into print.

“That is the minor leagues for writers,” King mentioned of unbiased publishing homes, although he added that new alternatives had been cropping up at tv streaming providers. “The streaming networks have been a gold rush for writers,” King mentioned.

‘No, after you’

The corporations contend inside competitors will proceed between the Simon & Schuster and Penguin imprints after the merger. King mocked that declare on the stand.

“You might as well say you are going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house,” he mentioned. “It will be very gentlemanly. It will be, ‘After you. No, after you.’”

US District Judge Florence Pan is listening to the case with out a jury. The trial, which is predicted to final three weeks, comes because the Biden administration has taken a more durable stance towards a pattern of consolidation inside industries.

The case is US v. Bertelsmann SE, 21-cv-02886, U.S. District Court for District of Columbia.

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