Stephen King set to testify in book publishing antitrust lawsuit

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(Bloomberg) – Best-selling author Stephen King is set to testify for the federal government in an antitrust lawsuit seeking to block Penguin Random House LLC’s $2.18 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster Inc.

King is set to testify in federal court in Washington about his experiences as a popular author selling top-selling books, according to court documents.

Author of horror classics including ‘Carrie’ and ‘The Shining’ is set to testify specifically about publishers who successfully bought the rights to anticipated bestsellers and what effects he thinks the proposed deal will have in the markets for those books, prosecutors said.

In the Justice Department’s original complaint, he argued that the acquisition would eliminate competition for authors’ publishing rights between No. 1 Penguin, owned by Bertelsmann SE, and No. 4 Simon & Schuster, owned by ViacomCBS Inc. Prosecutors say reduced competition is leading to lower advances for authors and fewer and more restricted book varieties for consumers.

Read more: US sues to block Penguin deal for Simon & Schuster

Penguin Random House countered that the deal would mean higher revenue for authors and more choice for consumers.

The trial is scheduled to begin August 1 and last three weeks. U.S. District Judge Florence Pan, who was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, said she plans to issue her ruling before assuming the new position.

The case is US v. Bertelsmann SE, 21-cv-02886, US District Court for the District of Columbia.

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