Stephen King, author of Carrie, The Shining, to testify against publisher over company merger

As the US Department of Justice (DOJ) works to convince a federal judge that a merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster would damage the careers of some of the world’s most popular authors, it is leaning in part on the testimony of a writer who has thrived like few others — Stephen King.

The author of Carrie, The Shining and many other favourites, King has willingly — even eagerly — placed himself in opposition to Simon & Schuster, his longtime publisher.

He was not chosen by the government just for his fame, but for his public criticism of the US$2.2 billion (more than $2.8 billion) deal, announced in late 2021, to join two of the world’s biggest publishers into what rival CEO Michael Pietsch of Hachette Book Group called a “gigantically prominent” entity.

“The more the publishers consolidate, the harder it is for indie publishers to survive,” King tweeted last year.

One of the few widely recognisable authors, King is expected to take the witness stand on Tuesday, the second day of a federal antitrust trial anticipated weeks to last two to three.

Simon & Schuster is Stephen King’s longtime publisher.(AP: Jenny Kane)

He may not have the business knowledge of Mr Pietsch, the DOJ’s first witness, but he has been a published novelist for nearly 50 years and knows well how much the industry has changed: Some of his former publishers were acquired by larger companies.

Carrie, for instance, was published by Doubleday, which in 2009 merged with Knopf Publishing Group, and now is part of Penguin Random House.

Another former King publisher, Viking Press, was a Penguin imprint that joined Penguin Random House when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013.

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