Stephen King will take the stand.
The 74-year-old horror writer, who has published more than 60 novels, will be a star witness for the US government in the case preventing Penguin Random House from acquiring its publishing rival Simon & Schuster in a $2.2 billion deal. That mega-merger would mean reducing the number of major publishing houses in the country from five to four.
The Justice Department sued to block the deal, which is being seen as a test of the Biden administration’s plans to deal with antitrust cases. The trial begins in Washington, DC, on Monday before U.S. District Judge Florence Paine.
Lawyers for the Justice Department called the merger “presumably wrong.” Penguin Random House argued that the integration would be a boon to the book business. King is expected to testify in Tuesday’s session of the week-long trial in US District Court in Washington, DC
Simon & Schuster publishes the writings of King, best known for works such as “The Stand,” “The Shining” and “Salem Lot.”
Penguin Random House is controlled by the German media company Bertelsmann. Simon & Schuster is owned by Paramount Global, headquartered in Midtown Manhattan.
The Justice Department has expressed concern that how the deal between the companies, should it begin, could affect US retailers, consumers and book authors. The publishing houses involved in the case argue that combining companies will give them the opportunity to put more resources into content and distribution.
According to the Justice Department, competition among publishers means better progress for authors and a stronger range of choices for book buyers. Penguin Random House is the nation’s top book publisher while Simon & Schuster is the fourth largest. Publishing houses Hachette, HarperCollins and Macmillan stand out among them, which control 90% of the book-selling market.
Prosecutors worry that Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster will jointly control about half of that market.
Penguin Random House has struck deals with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, worth an estimated $65 million. He also gave $15 million to former President Bill Clinton for his memoir.
Simon & Schuster paid 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton $8 million for her memoir. It also counts political journalist Bob Woodward and rocker Bruce Springsteen among its elites.
The Biden administration has been adamant on leveling the playing field with regards to the aspiring Monopoly. In July 2021, the President issued an executive order listing a number of objectives to promote corporate competitiveness.
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“A fair, open and competitive market has long been a cornerstone of the US economy, while excessive market concentration threatens basic economic freedoms, democratic accountability and the welfare of workers, farmers, small businesses, startups and consumers.” That order said.
It states that “a comprehensive and sustained prosperity depends on an open and competitive economy.”
King, who has nearly 7 million followers on Twitter, seems to have other things on his mind.
On Sundays, he thought of the 1961 doo-wop tune “Ram Lama Ding Dong.”
“All due respect to the doo-wop group Edsels, it’s hard for me to believe they actually had a girl named Rama Lama Ding Dong,” he said.
King frequently uses social media to advance his liberal politics and raise the issue of his home state of Maine, Republican Senator Susan Collins. with him expressed support For Biden administration policies.
news with wire services