Stephen King was called to be the star witnesses from the US Justice Department who is trying to stop the merger between two of the largest publishers in the world. King, told the court in Washington DC that he felt “the move would be bad for competition in the industry”. He went on to say “”You might as well say you’re going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house,” he quipped. “It would be sort of very gentlemanly and sort of, ‘After you’ and ‘After you,'” he said, gesturing with a polite sweep of the arm.
King’s appearance in U.S. District Court in Washington – highly unusual for an antitrust trial – brought a narrative of the evolution of book publishing toward the dominance of the Big Five companies.
Since publishing his first novel, Carrie, in 1974, King has penned more than 70 novels – including other cult classics like The Shining, and It – that have sold over 350m copies. In the last decade, King has also become more outspoken on social media, interacting with fans and often encouraging his 6.8 million Twitter followers to support local and independent bookstores.
In November 2020, Penguin Random House and Paramount Global, Simon & Schuster’s parent company, announced plans for a merger for around $2.2 billion dollars. A year later, the justice department sued to block the acquisition. US President Joe Biden’s administration has vowed to increase competition as a central part of its economic policy. It remains to be seen how this merger will play out.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.