Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.

Have you heard about the big battle going on between the federal government and the publishing world?  Yeah, me neither until Maine's own Stephen King lent his passionate voice to the issue taking it to a national stage, literally, in federal court and the media.

These are the kinds of court cases and battles where it often takes a celebrity to come to light and if it wasn't for him testifying I'm not sure any of us would be paying any attention or even care.  Who knows, maybe you still don't care.

But in case you do, here's a quick low down on why Stephen was in court and testifying for the plaintiff which happens to be the United States Department of Justice.  I learned about all of this on NPR.

Stack of books in a library, Stockholm, Sweden
Keith Levit

There are only five major publishing houses in the world and they control 80% of the book market.  The DOJ is trying to block two of those biggies, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, from merging into one.  The DOJ says that would make it harder for writers to earn a living and give even more power to the big houses as they shrink from five to four.

Stephen agrees and wants to stop this over $2 billion acquisition, testifying for the DOJ that this merger would hurt lesser known writers because the dwindling competition means the power lays in the hands of the publishers even more and that they can pay virtually nothing on advances since there's basically no competition.

Second Generation Bookstore Risks Closure In Coronavirus Lockdown
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Stephen said that when he started out he was able to shop his books around to lots of houses meaning writers had a bigger say and received bigger advances which weren't even that great for newbies like him even then.

Get this, he only received a combined $10,000 in advances for his first books including “Carrie” and “The Shining.”  Isn't that crazy and those houses made millions off of him.

Stephen adds he's even accepted smaller advances from independent publishers to try and help them survive, too.

Court has adjourned and it's a waiting game now.  Personally I'm rooting for the DOJ.

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