Stephen King To Testify Against Penguin Random House In Publishing Antitrust Trial

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Novelist Stephen King says writing is like leaving the ordinary world for a world of his own making: "It's a wonderful, exhilarating experience."

Stephen King and a host of significant publishing figures have been listed as witnesses for the upcoming trial between the US Department of Justice and Penguin Random House’s owner Bertelsmann.

The Department of Justice hopes to block the company from acquiring Simon & Schuster in a $2.2 billion deal, with court proceedings due to start on 1st August.

Preliminary witness lists were filed over the weekend, with the government intending to call King – who is published by S&S in the US – early in the proceedings to testify about his experiences. He will be asked about his perceptions of how the market for book rights operates, the expectations and needs of top-selling authors, the characteristics of firms that successfully purchase anticipated top-selling titles, and the likely effects of the proposed transaction on the market for anticipated bestsellers.

Other notable figures who could provide testimony include Hachette Book Group US c.e.o. Michael Pietsch, S&S president and c.e.o. Jonathan Karp, PRH chairman and c.e.o. Markus Dohle and Macmillan c.e.o. Don Weisberg. Karp and Dohle are expected to testify about the competition between PRH and S&S for anticipated top-selling books.

Publishers Lunch reported that PRH has hired former literary agent Jennifer Rudolph Walsh as an “expert witness”. It also expects to call literary agents Andrew Wylie, Gail Ross, Joy Harris, and Elyse Cheney.

Last week, court filings revealed the two sides were in dispute over whether the trial should allow discussion of a company policy that would see Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster imprints treated as external parties in auctions.