The U.S. government's argument that Penguin Random House shouldn't be allowed to purchase Simon & Schuster received backing in court Tuesday from a little "freelance writer" named Stephen King.
The famed author took the stand to testify against a proposed merger of the two publishing companies amid an ongoing antitrust trial in Washington. "I came because I think that consolidation is bad for competition," King said, The Associated Press reports.
King, who introduced himself as a "freelance writer" and spoke about how it's become "tougher and tougher for writers to find money to live on" in the publishing industry, also reportedly dismissed the two companies' claims that they will bid on books separately after merging. "You might as well say you're going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house," he said, per AP. King publishes his books with Simon & Schuster.
Penguin Random House announced plans to purchase Simon & Schuster in 2020, which would combine the largest U.S. book publisher with the third largest. But the Justice Department sued to block the merger the following year, citing antitrust concerns.
"If the world's largest book publisher is permitted to acquire one of its biggest rivals, it will have unprecedented control over this important industry," Attorney General Merrick Garland said. "American authors and consumers will pay the price of this anticompetitive merger – lower advances for authors and ultimately fewer books and less variety for consumers."
The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.