The U.S. Justice Department opened its antitrust trial challenging the proposed merger of book publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster by arguing that the deal would reshape the industry and squelch once-fierce competition between the rivals for bestselling books.

With Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, the head of the DOJ’s antitrust division, seated in the public gallery of the courtroom, trial attorney John Read presented a portrait of an industry dominated by a handful of major firms who overwhelmingly win the rights to books viewed as potential top sellers. The proposed merger of two of those firms would drive down the advances that authors earn for their work, making it harder for authors to earn a living, Read said.