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Weekly News Digest

November 3, 2022 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITI’s Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

Takes on the DOJ vs. PRH Decision

Publishers Weekly’s Andrew Albanese announced the verdict of the trial between the Department of Justice and Penguin Random House (PRH), stating, “A federal court has blocked Penguin Random House’s acquisition of rival Big Five publisher Simon & Schuster [S&S]. At press time, Judge Florence Y. Pan’s opinion was not yet public as the parties still need to agree on redactions to protect confidential information, but in a brief two page order Pan enjoined the merger. … The parties now have until November 4 to file proposed reactions, after which the court will issue a public version of Pan’s Memorandum Opinion. … PRH officials said they ‘strongly disagreed’ with the decision and would be requesting an ‘expedited’ appeal, (although in later comments by PRH and S&S officials an appeal appeared less certain).”

The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter report, “A judge blocked the largest publisher in the country from absorbing a rival, thwarting further consolidation in an industry that has been deeply reshaped by mergers in recent years. But the decision brought little clarity about what lies ahead for the companies involved, or for the publishing world. … Some analysts speculated that the ruling would put a damper on major mergers and acquisitions, making it unlikely that other big publishing houses would escape antitrust scrutiny if they acquired [S&S].”

NPR, via the Associated Press, calls the ruling “a victory for the Biden administration’s tougher approach to proposed mergers, a break from decades of precedent under Democratic and Republican leadership. … Pan’s finding was not surprising. … But it was still a dramatic departure from recent history in the book world and beyond. The publishing industry has been consolidating for years with little interference from the government, even when Random House and Penguin merged in 2013 and formed what was then the biggest publishing house in memory.”

Vox’s Constance Grady writes, “Most of us are familiar with the idea of a monopoly and how such a selling market can drive up consumer prices, but with this case, the DOJ was arguing that PRHS&S would form a monopsony—an unfair buying market that would drive down the money paid to authors. Such cases are historically rare. The DOJ’s success here sets a major precedent for the way the US prosecutes corporate giants. … Over the course of the trial that ensued, publishers would continue to insist on their existing public image as helpless incompetents at the whims of larger companies and an irrational market. The government, meanwhile, stuck to the narrative that the publishers were savvy operators who knew exactly what they were doing with their billion-dollar companies. Their story has now won—and it will help decide the future of American antitrust law.”

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli

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