Press Release

DOJ Stands Up for Authors & Readers In Suit Against Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster Merger

November 2, 2021

Today, the United States Department of Justice sued to block the merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. The proposed merger would create a publishing giant responsible for half of the top-selling books from the first- and fourth-largest publishing houses, further consolidating an already concentrated marketplace. The complaint highlights the potential harms to authors, other publishers, and readers if the merger is allowed to go through.

Public Knowledge is encouraged to see the Department of Justice’s leadership in bringing this complaint.

The following can be attributed to Alex Petros, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“The Department of Justice rightfully recognizes that this proposed merger would be a disaster for authors and in turn the reading public. If this merger is allowed, readers will face fewer choices of what to read and higher prices on the books that do get published.

“In particular, Public Knowledge applauds the Department of Justice for focusing on the impact this would have on authors that rely on a fair publishing market for competitive rates. While the harms this merger would cause to readers are real, too often, antitrust discussions leave out the harms to creators caused by consolidation.

“While challenging this merger is an important and laudable step, more remains to be done. Enforcers must confront the unfair terms imposed on libraries, particularly with how they can build and lend out their digital collections. They should also examine how digital locks on ebooks lock readers into single ebook platforms, which reduces ebook price competition and protects tech giants like Amazon.

“We hope that this bold action by the Department leads to further scrutiny of consolidated marketplaces from book publishing to online platforms.”

You can read our recent blog post, “Readers Would Be Harmed by Further Book Mergers,” for more information.