Stephen King took the stand on Tuesday in the Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster antitrust trial, telling the judge that he volunteered as a witness for the Justice Department because “consolidation is bad for the competition.”
King, in a gray suit and gray tie, had the courtroom in laughter at moments as he recounted key moments in his career.
He is the Justice Department’s highest profile witness in its effort to block Penguin Random House’s proposed $2.2 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The DOJ claims the deal would adversely impact author advances of $250,000 and above for the most anticipated best sellers. The publishers plan to challenge the government’s rationale and methodology for claiming that the transaction would lessen such compensation for writers.
King also weighed in on Penguin Random House’s pledge that after the acquisition, Simon & Schuster would still be allowed to bid against other PRH imprints.
“You might as well say you will have a husband and wife bidding against each other for a house. It’s a little bit ridiculous,” King said.
King’s testimony was relatively short: After about 45 minutes of questioning by the government’s attorney and then a short break, Penguin Random House’s lead attorney Dan Petrocelli told him they had no questions.
“Am I done?” King asked. He was, and he left the courthouse soon after, signing several autographs outside. Asked how he thought his testimony went, King said, “It went.”