Penguin, Simon & Schuster ask judge to dismiss US antitrust lawsuit


Penguin books are seen in a second-hand bookstore in central London on October 29, 2012. REUTERS / Stefan Wermuth

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (Reuters) – Two major book publishers have told judge that a US Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit should be dismissed, calling the government’s arguments “legally wrong , factual and economic “.

In November, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to prevent Penguin Random House, the world’s largest book publisher, from buying competitor Simon & Schuster, saying the deal would give the company “leverage. disproportionate “on what Americans read.

“The merger will neither reduce this leverage nor the incentives of Penguin Random House and its competitors to make aggressive offers for the most coveted books,” the companies said in a court filing Monday.

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German media group Bertelsmann (BTGGg.F), owner of Penguin Random House, agreed last year to pay $ 2.175 billion to buy Simon and Schuster from ViacomCBS (VIAC.O), further strengthening its presence in the United States. United and adding novelist Stephen King, Pulitzer Laureate Anthony Doerr and veteran journalist Bob Woodward to its stable of writers.

In its lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, the Justice Department said the deal would give “disproportionate influence over who and what is published, and how much authors are paid for their work.”

The complaint underscored the importance of companies competing for top-selling books as well as the money earned by the authors who write them.

The booksellers said the Justice Department “wants to protect the most successful authors, those with sophisticated agents and the most lucrative book contracts.”

If the merger goes through, the deal would give Penguin Random House nearly half of the market for best-selling book publishing rights while its closest competitors would be less than half its size, according to the complaint.

The book publishers added that the Justice Department “has not alleged that the merger will reduce competition in the market for book sales or increase prices for consumers.”

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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