Horror author Stephen King says writers have suffered as a result of book publisher mergers

Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Horror author Stephen King said writers will have fewer places to buy books if Penguin Random House is allowed to merge with Simon & Schuster, during Tuesday’s testimony in a trial to determine whether the deal can go through .

In a trial that began Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to persuade a federal judge to block a $2.2 billion merger between two Big Five publishers. She argued that the deal would lead to lower advances for some authors who earn $250,000 or more, rather than relying on the more traditional argument that consumers would pay more for books. (L1N2ZD1D1)

King, the author of “The Shining,” “Carrie” and other blockbusters, took issue with promises made by the companies to allow Simon & Schuster imprints, essentially different book brands, to continue to independently bid for books against Penguin Random House.

“You might as well say that a husband and wife will apply for the same house. It’s a bit ridiculous,” he said in court.

Looking more like an accountant than the chilling author of “Misery,” King’s appearance in the merger trial shifted the conversation from dry discussions about the economics of publishers competing for books at auction to a celebrity author recounting how a publishing executive once laughed at him , when he asked for a $2 million advance for two books.

King modestly said he wasn’t sure how many bestsellers he had written, but admitted it was more than 60.

Defense led by lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, who defeated

the Trump administration’s 2018 attempt to rein in AT&T Inc

when I bought Time Warner, I had no questions for King. Publishers rejected the idea that major booksellers would be able to reduce advance payments.

The process is expected to take two to three weeks. Upcoming witnesses will include testimony from the chief executives of both publishers.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter and David Gregorio)