The renowned author Stephen King will testify in a competitive process about the planned merger of two publishing giants.
ing is said to be a witness for the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC trying to block the proposed merger of two of the world’s largest publishers: US number one publisher Penguin Random House and fourth largest, Simon & Schuster.
The author has expressed dissatisfaction with the deal, although he should benefit from it: The author has been published by Simon & Schuster for years.
But King, one of the world’s best-selling authors for decades, fears the merger could hurt smaller companies. Some of King’s own former publishers were taken over by larger ones.
As the author of “Carrie,” “The Shining,” and many other big-time bestsellers and box office hits, King has willingly opposed Simon & Schuster, his longtime publisher.
He was chosen by the US government not only for his fame but for his public criticism of the $2.2 billion (£1.7 billion) deal announced at the end of 2021, which joins two of the world’s biggest publishers, As for rival Hachette Book CEO Michael Pietsch, the Group has called it a “giantly prominent” entity.
“As publishers consolidate, it becomes harder for indie publishers to survive,” King tweeted last year.
One of the few widely recognized authors, King is expected to take the witness stand on day two of a US federal antitrust case expected in the last two to three weeks.
He may not have the business knowledge of Mr. Pietsch, the Justice Department’s first witness, but he has been a published novelist for almost 50 years and knows exactly how much the industry has changed.
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Carrie, for example, was published by Doubleday, which merged with Knopf Publishing Group in 2009 and is now part of Penguin Random House.
Another former King publisher, Viking Press, was a Penguin imprint that joined Penguin Random House when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013.
King’s affinity with smaller publishers is personal. While continuing to publish with the Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner, he has written thrillers for the independent Hard Case Crime.
Years ago, the publisher asked him to contribute a blurb, but King instead offered to write a novel for her, The Colorado Kid, which was published in 2005.
“I was turning wheels inside me,” Charles Ardai, co-founder of Hard Case, recalled, he thought when King contacted him.
King himself would likely benefit from the Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster deal, but he’s had priorities other than his material well-being in the past.
He has long been a critic of tax cuts for the rich, though “the rich” certainly includes Stephen King, and openly calls on the government to raise its taxes.
“In America, we should all have to pay our fair share,” he wrote for The Daily Beast in 2012.
On Monday, lawyers for both sides offered opposing views of the book industry. Prosecutor John Read cited a dangerously tight market, strictly governed by the Big Five – Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishing, Macmillan and Hachette – with little chance for small or start-up publishers to break through.
Lawyer Daniel Petrocelli argued in defense that the industry is actually diverse, profitable and open to newcomers.
Publishing means not only the Big Five, but also medium-sized companies such as WW Norton & Co and Grove Atlantic.
The merger, he claimed, would in no way upset the ambitions so many have for literary success.
“Every book begins as an expected bestseller in the gleam of an author’s or an editor’s eyes,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-news/stephen-king-set-to-testify-in-books-merger-trial-41884477.html Stephen King is set to testify in a merger trial