Scare tactic: Stephen King to testify for feds in publishing merger trial

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Stephen King didn’t just write “The Stand’’ — he’s about to take it on behalf of the Justice Department in federal court.

The famed horror novelist is set to be a star witness for the government at a trial that will determine if Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster can legally merge. 

The DOJ sued to block the $2.2 billion merger, which it argues would give one company an outsize role in deciding which books are published in the US. 

The government says the proposed merger would likely leave readers with fewer book options to choose from — not to mention limit advances paid to the most notable American authors, including King, who has written other killer classics such as “Carrie” and “The Shining” and has worked with Simon & Schuster.

“The evidence will show that the proposed merger would likely result in authors of anticipated top-selling books receiving smaller advances, meaning authors who labor for years over their manuscripts will be paid less for their efforts,” DOJ lawyers wrote in a pre-trial brief. 

King is scheduled to testify Tuesday for the Justice Department.

Other industry execs including top agents are also expected to take the stand at the trial. 

Simon & Schuster logo
The government says the proposed merger would likely leave readers with fewer book options to choose from.
Bill Tompkins/Getty Images
Penguin books
The complete trial is expected to last no more than three weeks.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Random House and Penguin books
A combined company would be able to offer more handsome advances and a more robust marketing effort for authors, according to the defense. 
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The defense has contended that the proposed merger would make the book industry more competitive — and would actually benefit readers and book authors. 

A combined company would be able to offer more handsome advances and a more robust marketing effort for authors, according to the defense. 

The trial, before Judge Florence Pan, is expected to last about three weeks. 

With Post wires

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