Book publishing merger blocked by judge

November 1, 2022

The proposed merger would have reduced competition, decreased author compensation, diminished the breadth, depth, and diversity of our stories and ideas, and ultimately impoverished our democracy.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter for the Justice Department’s antitrust division. A judge ruled in favor of a government case blocking the potential merger between the largest and fourth-largest book publishers in the United States.

Background: A trial took place in August in which the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against a potential $2.18 billion merger between Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. The DOJ said the combined publishers would control “almost half of the nation’s anticipated top-selling books,” and that this would threaten “competition in multiple ways.” The publishers argued the merger was necessary to compete with Amazon’s “growing in-house publishing business” (Politico).

Why It Matters: The Department of Justice – under the Biden Administration – has sought to limit the growth of monopolies. The government’s win in this particular case marks a shift in antitrust cases as the DOJ works to curb major mergers and consolidations. Penguin Random House plans to file an appeal.

Judge Blocks a Merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster (The New York Times)

DOJ blocks Penguin Random House’s takeover of Simon & Schuster (Politico)

by Jenna Lee,