The $2.175 billion acquisition of publishers Simon & Schuster by market leader Penguin Random House, announced in 202, has been stalled by a court judgement in the US. Judge Florence Y Pan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has stopped the deal, which was to take place in the form of a merger, stating that competition for publishing rights would be affected “substantially”, reported The New York Times.

The merger would have created a huge publishing conglomerate which, its opponents argued, would reduce competition when publishers bid for the rights to publish a book. The US Justice Department filed a case against the deal not so much to protect book-buyers’ interests as those of writers from whom publishers buy rights. Penguin Random House and its parent company Bertelsmann have decided to appeal.

The trial took place over three weeks in August 2022, and had a number of industry experts and authors, including celebrity bestselling writer Stephen King, testifying. On Monday night, King tweeted that he was “delighted” with the outcome.

Penguin Random House is the market leader among English language trade (non-academic) publishers in India, while Simon & Schuster also publishes its books in the country. The companies had not announced their post-merger plans for India, but these will not have to wait for an appeal in the US courts and the verdict that emerges.