There are currently five major publishing houses in the United States, and one of them, Penguin Random House, wants to buy Simon & Schuster, one of its strongest rivals, for $2.75 billion. . But that poses a problem, says U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. He said the merger would create a “publishing behemoth,” in a statement released by the US Department of Justice on Tuesday.
“Books have shaped American public life throughout our nation’s history, and authors are the cornerstone of book publishing in America. But only five publishers control America’s publishing industry” , the statement said. “If the world’s largest book publisher is allowed to acquire one of its biggest rivals, it will have unprecedented control over this important industry. American authors and consumers will pay the price for this anti-competitive merger – advances less for authors and, ultimately, fewer books and less variety for consumers.”
Penguin Random House has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The DOJ statement also pointed out that the publishing industry is already highly concentrated. The “Big Five” give authors the best chance of becoming bestsellers. He continues by saying:
“The complaint alleges that the acquisition of Simon & Schuster for $2.175 billion would give Penguin Random House control of nearly half of the market for acquiring publishing rights to top-selling books, leaving hundreds of individual authors with fewer options and less influence. According to its own documents, as described in the complaint, Penguin Random House considers the US publishing market an “oligopoly” and its acquisition of Simon & Schuster is aimed at to “consolidate” its position as the dominant publisher in the United States… Put simply, if Penguin Random House acquires Simon & Schuster, the two publishers will cease to compete with each other.As a result, authors will be paid less for their work Authors who are paid less write less, which, in turn, means that the quantity and variety of books also decreases.”
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