Why Antitrust Lawyers Don't Need to Worry About Publishing Yet

So there's a merger of two giant publishers. Says Adam Davidson: So what?

How different is publishing right now? Different enough that one can—and by one, I mean Adam Davidson—make the argument that even if mergers didn't stop at Penguin-Random House but continued on, gobbling up all of the major publishers into one big super publisher, it might not be worth antitrust lawyers' time to get involved:

But it’s difficult to imagine how, in the digital world, publishers could ever monopolize the sale of written material. Even if there were only one house left, it would compete with every blogger and self-published e-book author. Eventually, it’s likely that book publishing will embody both conflicting visions of digital-age commerce—lots of small businesses and a few massive ones that handle big-ticket items.

History suggests that the antitrust lawyers should be more concerned about government-issued patents, which allow large corporations to buy up vaguely worded deeds that can be used to sue upstarts out of existence.


Photo via Flickr (cc) user Sutherland Shire Libraries.