Stephen King 'frightened' by the concentration of the publishing world

Stephen King ‘frightened’ by the concentration of the publishing world

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The prolific American writer affirmed before an American court his opposition to the merger of two giants in the sector.

It’s the master of horror’s turn to be “worried”: Stephen King, author of frightening best-sellers, confided Tuesday, in front of an American court, his fears vis-a-vis the growing concentration in the sector of the edition. The father of works like Bright and That testified in Washington against the proposed merger between its own publisher Simon & Schuster and the giant Penguin Random House, an operation valued at nearly 2.2 billion dollars.

The US government opposes the birth of a behemoth with a “disproportionate influence on the authors and works that are published, and on the sums paid to the authors”and asked Stephen King to be his star witness at the trial. Dressed in a gray tie suit reflecting the seriousness of the issues, this 75-year-old man with a slender silhouette and angular features described for nearly an hour the developments in the sector during his long career. “I’m here because I think consolidation is bad for the competition”he explained.

“I’ve been in the book business for about 50 years. When I started, there were literally hundreds of publishers. One by one, they were swallowed up by others or they put the key under the door”he detailed. Consequently, “it has become harder and harder for writers to find enough money to live on”. At the heart of the file: the advances on receipts that publishers offer to their authors before the writing of the works. Newcomers generally have little or no right to it, but for successful authors, publishing houses compete and sometimes outbid each other.

I was lucky enough to be able to afford it, to no longer have to follow my bank account, to follow my heart

Stephen King

Stephen King said his first check in 1974 was for $2,500 for Carriewhose sales exploded after its adaptation to the cinema. After a handful of other bestsellers, including Brighthe had proposed to his publisher to reserve his next three books for him in exchange for 2 million dollars. He had refused “bursting out laughing”.

Stephen King had gone elsewhere, had played the competition and had had a string of successes in the 1980s with renowned publishers, while continuing to publish some of his books for more confidential and less profitable houses. “I was lucky enough to be able to afford it, to no longer have to follow my bank account, to follow my heart”declared Stephen King who had already distinguished himself in 2012 by advocating to strengthen the taxation of the richest, including on his own fortune.

Well aware of being privileged, he deplored that his colleagues operate in “a difficult world”. On leaving the hearing, he added that he was “very worried”while signing autographs. The trial is expected to last two more weeks.


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