Here’s Why Maine’s Stephen King Was in Federal Court Passionately Testifying
Have you heard about the big battle going on between the federal government and the publishing world? Yeah, me neither, until Maine's own Stephen King lent his passionate voice to the issue taking it to a national stage, literally, in federal court and the media.
These are the kinds of court cases and battles where it often takes a celebrity to come to light, and if it wasn't for him testifying, I'm not sure any of us would be paying any attention or even care. Who knows, maybe you still don't care.
But in case you do, here's a quick lowdown on why Stephen was in court and testifying for the plaintiff, which happens to be the United States Department of Justice. I learned about all of this on NPR.
There are only five major publishing houses in the world, and they control 80% of the book market. The DOJ is trying to block two of those biggies, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, from merging into one. The DOJ says that would make it harder for writers to earn a living and give even more power to the big houses as they shrink from five to four.
Stephen agrees, and wants to stop this over $2 billion acquisition. He testified for the DOJ, saying that this merger would hurt lesser-known writers because the dwindling competition means the power lays in the hands of the publishers even more, and that they can pay virtually nothing on advances since there's basically no competition.
Stephen said that when he started out, he was able to shop his books around to lots of houses, meaning writers had a bigger say and received bigger advances.
Get this, he only received a combined $10,000 in advances for his first books, including “Carrie” and “The Shining.” Isn't that crazy? And those houses made millions off of him.
Stephen adds he's even accepted smaller advances from independent publishers to try and help them survive, too.
Court has adjourned, and it's a waiting game now. Personally, I'm rooting for the DOJ.