DOJ v. PRH: All Our Coverage

A compilation of PW’s coverage of US v. Bertelsmann SE & CO. KGaA, et al., the US Department of Justice’s bid to block Penguin Random House’s acquisition of rival Big Five publisher Simon & Schuster, with the most recent coverage up top.

In addition to our reporting, P.W news editor John Maher live-tweeted the first week of trial testimony here.

Week One

Markus Dohle’s Silicon Valley of Media: On day four of the trial, the government called Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle who described publishers as the “angel investors in our authors and their dreams, their stories.”

Karp’s Second Day of Testimony: On day three of the trial, S&S CEO Jonathan Karp finished his testimony as a government witness. Also taking the stand, DOJ statistician Adriana Porro.

Jonathan Karp and Stephen King Take the Stand: The second day of the DOJ’s trial featured a little star power: bestselling author Stephen King took the stand. But in terms of the case before the court, the highlight of the day was the testimony of S&S CEO Jonathan Karp. Also taking the stand, literary agent Ayesha Pande, who finished her testimony; S&S CFO Dennius Eulau; and a portion of Kensington CEO Steve Zacharius’s video testimony was played in court.

Opening Arguments, Pietsch Testimony on Day One of DOJ Trial to Block PRH/S&S Merger: After months of anticipation, the government’s bid to block Penguin Random House’s acquisition of rival Big Five publisher Simon & Schuster got off to a tedious start. In addition to Pietsch, literary agent Ayesha Pande began her testimony.

Pre-Trial Coverage

Trial to Block PRH/S&S Merger Begins; Evidence Dispute Looms: The trial got underway on August 1 in Washington, DC, with the case expected to run about three weeks. Meanwhile, filings made public late on July 29 shed light on a lingering pre-trial evidence dispute that could impact PRH’s defense.

In Final Briefs, DOJ, PRH Flesh Out Arguments Ahead of Trial: With oral arguments set to begin on August 1 in Washington, DC, the parties on July 25 filed their final pre-trial briefs outlining their cases for trial.

Showdown: DOJ’s Bid to Block PRH Acquisition of S&S Is Heading to Trial: PW previews the US Department of Justice’s bid to block Penguin Random House’s acquisition of rival Big Five publisher Simon & Schuster.

Justice Department Sues Block Penguin Random House Acquisition of S&S: On November 2, 2021 the US Department of Justice sued to block Penguin Random House parent company Bertelsmann’s proposed acquisition of Viacom CBS subsidiary Simon & Schuster, arguing that it “would result in substantial harm to authors.”

Bertelsmann to Buy S&S for $2.2 Billion: On November 25, 2020 Bertelsmann emerged as the winning bidder for Simon & Schuster. In an announcement, the parent company of Penguin Random House said it had reached an agreement to buy S&S from ViacomCBS for $2.175 billion.

Is Simon & Schuster a Bargain at $1.7 Billion?: The New York Times reported that HarperCollins and Penguin Random House were the favorites to acquire Simon & Schuster with the expected purchase price to be at least $1.7 billion, the top end of original estimates of $1.2 billion–$1.7 billion for the price of the country’s third-largest trade publisher .

A version of this article appeared in the 08/08/2022 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline:


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