Judge blocks merger of publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon & Shuster

As mega-mergers go, the one between publishing giants PRH and S&S was openly feared and loathed by almost everyone other than corporate financiers. Authors and staff knew they were for the chop by the hundreds if not thousands, readers knew that choice would evaporate, and bookstores knew their place in the ecosystem would more difficult than ever. But a federal jugdge blocked the merger Monday night, saying letting the two largest U.S. publishers join forces would hurt competition. NPR:

U.S. District Court Judge Florence Y. Pan announced the decision in a brief statement Monday, adding that much of her ruling remained under seal at the moment because of "confidential information" and "highly confidential information." She asked the two sides to meet with her Friday and suggest redactions. Penguin Random House quickly condemned the ruling, which it called "an unfortunate setback for readers and authors." In its statement Monday, the publisher said it would seek an expedited appeal. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division praised the decision, saying in a statement that the decision "protects vital competition for books and is a victory for authors, readers, and the free exchange of ideas." He added: "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."