By Allison Schrager, Bloomberg
A national labor shortage is an odd time to argue that some workers don’t have enough job options. But that’s what the U.S. Department of Justice is doing — specifically, they’re worried about the prospects of aspiring authors. Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House (full disclosure: Penguin published my last book) are hoping to merge, but antitrust officials are suing to block the deal. The DOJ argues the merger would further concentrate the publishing industry and the result would be smaller advances for authors and less diverse books.
This is the latest twist in modern antitrust enforcement, which is no longer just concerned about consumers paying too much. The latest suit argues workers would have less power in a more concentrated market and that does them harm. It’s true there is more market consolidation, but it’s not clear this hurts workers (or authors). Modern antitrust often feels like a solution in search of a problem. This case is the latest example.