American best-selling horror novelist Stephen King testified on Aug. 2 in an anti-trust trial to block the $2.2 billion merger of the two biggest book publishers in the United States.
King, 75, testified as a witness for the U.S. government about how Penguin Random House’s proposed acquisition of Simon & Schuster could make it harder for writers to earn a living.
“I came because I think consolidation is bad for competition,” King told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
King testified that advances — the money paid to writers before the book is published — have slowly dropped with fewer imprints competing for business.
King also noted that advances were not even particularly generous for new writers to begin with.
“It becomes tougher and tougher for writers to find enough money to live on,” King said.
Both publishing houses have argued that the merger would not hinder competition because they would still be allowed to bid against each other for the rights to publish novels, even after the merger.
However, King, who has 50 years of experience in the publishing industry, called the reasoning “a little bit ridiculous.”
“You might as well say you are going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for a house,” King testified.
After King testified for around half an hour, lawyers for Penguin Random House declined to cross-examine the author.
King has written more than 70 novels since his debut novel, “Carrie,” was published in 1975. His novels, including cult classics like “The Shining,” “It,” and “Pet Sematary,” have sold 350 million copies.
In recent years, King has encouraged his millions of followers on social media to support local and independent bookstores.
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