Why We Need Independent Publishers
newsletters.theatlantic.com – Tuesday August 9, 2022
Along with most everyone I know who works in or otherwise relies on book publishing for their livelihood, I’ve been following the Biden administration’s antitrust case against the proposed Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster merger. Last week, as John H. Maher of Publishers Weekly live-tweeted us through the opening days of the trial, my timeline was filled with [skull-emoji] quote-tweets of things that many of us aren’t used to hearing folks in publishing say out loud. PRH lawyers have argued that “after the merger, the market dynamic will be just the same,” while the DOJ maintains that combining two of the “Big Five” publishers into one would decrease the number of offers an author might receive, lower book advances, and make it harder for writers to support themselves. In a pretrial brief, the DOJ stated that if the merger goes forward, it “would … give the merged company control of nearly half of the market to acquire anticipated top-selling books from authors”—a point underlined by Stephen “My name is Stephen King, I’m a freelance writer” King when he took the stand last Tuesday. “Consolidation is bad for competition,” he said.
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