Judge blocks Penguin Random House merger with Simon & Schuster

Penguin plans to appeal the ruling.
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Judge's gavel
Judge's gavel
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A federal judge has blocked the prospective merger of publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.

"Defendants are hereby enjoined and restrained from consummating the proposed merger, or otherwise effecting a combination of Penguin Random House, LLC, and Simon & Schuster, Inc.," Judge Florence Pan wrote, according to Deadline.

"[T]he United States has shown that 'the effect of [the proposed merger] may be substantially to lessen competition' in the market for the U.S. publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books," Pan further wrote. The Department of Justice had moved to block the merger.

Penguin plans to appeal the ruling. A spokesperson for the publishing house contended the DOJ's case was faulty. "As we demonstrated throughout the trial, the Department of Justice's focus on advances to the world's best-paid authors instead of consumers or the intense competitiveness in the publishing sector runs contrary to its mission to ensure fair competition," they said.

"We believe this merger will be pro-competitive, and we will continue to work closely with Paramount and Simon & Schuster on next steps," they continued.

The DOJ, meanwhile, celebrated the ruling, saying it "protects vital competition for books and is a victory for authors, readers, and the free exchange of ideas. The proposed merger would have reduced competition, decreased author compensation, diminished the breadth, depth, and diversity of our stories and ideas, and ultimately impoverished our democracy."