Authors to rebuke Amazon over Hachette dispute with full-page NYT ad

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2014
Nearly 1,000 authors affected by the onging e-book spat between Amazon and Hachette have signed their names to a letter -- set to run as a full-page advertisement in the Sunday New York Times later this week -- imploring the online retailer to settle the dispute and calling on readers to voice their displeasure directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.


An Amazon warehouse, via The Dallas Morning News.


Composed by techno-thriller author Douglas Preston, the missive counts best-selling writers including John Grisham, Stephen King, Malcolm Gladwell, and Nora Roberts as signatories. Its appearance in the New York Times was first reported by that publication.

"As writers--most of us not published by Hachette--we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want," the letter reads. "It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation."

Amazon stopped accepting pre-orders for new Hachette releases in May, after the publisher refused to grant Amazon more favorable terms for the sale of e-books. The retail giant then began to draw down inventory of print editions, increasing the tiff's impact on authors' income and sparking a contentious public battle.

Facing growing backlash, Amazon extended an olive branch to authors last month. The company proposed a temporary arrangement in which sales would resume, but profits would be given directly to the writers, cutting Hachette out of the loop until a new agreement was reached.

That proposal was roundly criticized by authors, including Preston, who said that such a deal would only serve to weaken Hachette.

Amazon is embroiled in similar battles with a number of smaller publishers, where it is said to be "increasingly ruthless" as it renegotiates terms. The company has seemingly been emboldened by last year's U.S. court decision that saw Apple, Amazon's only major rival in the e-books market, found guilty of antitrust violations over its own agreements with publishers.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    Not exactly a match made in heaven, but I sure do hope that this takes off, and gives publishers and authors alike some ammo against Amazon.

    http://nytimes.com/2014/08/07/business/media/google-and-barnes-noble-unite-to-take-on-amazon.html?referrer=
  • Reply 2 of 85
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,917member
    I generally use the Kindle app for book reading on my iPad and iPhone. I'm all about Apple, but was already using Kindle when iBooks came out. I've thought about switching over over the years, but didn't want to orphan the dozens (hundreds now?) books I already bought...

    Guess I'll have to think about it again.
  • Reply 3 of 85
    b9botb9bot Posts: 238member
    Boycott Amazon. Don't buy anything from them. The Monopoly is Amazon, not Apple. They are proving it with this kind of behavior.
  • Reply 4 of 85
    thedbathedba Posts: 579member
    Apple's proposal, eventually shot down by US courts, looks better with each passing day. Walmart-ification race to the bottom tactics always hurt everyone but the few at top in the end.
  • Reply 5 of 85
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    bageljoey wrote: »
    I generally use the Kindle app for book reading on my iPad and iPhone. I'm all about Apple, but was already using Kindle when iBooks came out. I've thought about switching over over the years, but didn't want to orphan the dozens (hundreds now?) books I already bought...

    Guess I'll have to think about it again.

    You already bought them, so you might as well read them. If you want to make a statement to Amazon then buy your future ebooks from Apple, B&N, or any other ebook retailer.
  • Reply 6 of 85
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    bageljoey wrote: »
    I generally use the Kindle app for book reading on my iPad and iPhone. I'm all about Apple, but was already using Kindle when iBooks came out. I've thought about switching over over the years, but didn't want to orphan the dozens (hundreds now?) books I already bought...

    Guess I'll have to think about it again.

    There are many options for removing the DRM from Amazon ebooks.
  • Reply 7 of 85
    mnbob1mnbob1 Posts: 268member

    Where is the court ordered representative on-site at Amazon that is monitoring their monopolistic practices? Oh, that's right, no one has brought suite against them like they did to Apple. It probably won't happen because everybody likes cheap stuff, the publishers actually need them no matter how dirty they are, Apple has no case against them, and the DOJ is afraid of going after one of the largest retailers in the country in fear of damaging the economy. If it was actually investigated Bezos would make Bill Gates in the early years of Microsoft look like a kitten.

  • Reply 8 of 85
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,803member
    DOJ: nothing to see here, folks. move along.

    Maybe Amazon could get the DOJ to investigate the authors for forming a conspiracy.
  • Reply 9 of 85
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Quote: "[Amazon] proposed a temporary arrangement in which sales would resume, but profits would be given directly to the writers, cutting Hachette out of the loop until a new agreement was reached."

    There's perhaps no better illustration of the narcism that reigns supreme at Amazon than that proposal. Amazon's investment in the books it sells are microscopic. Even for a well-detailed bestseller, they likely to be no more than $100 or so to create that book's webpage. In contrast, Hachette has typically invested hundreds of thousands in advances, editorial work, and advertising to ready those books for the market.

    Amazon's willingness to forgo its profits means nothing. It's costs are minuscule, so its loses would be equally small. In contrast, Hachette isn't being asked to forgo profits, but money it needs simply to cover already-made expenses.

    Oh how I loathe Amazon! At times I wonder if there's anyone above an assistant VP who has any ability to see any POV but Amazon's. Even their PR moves in this dispute look bad to anyone who understands publishing.
  • Reply 10 of 85
    Is there a legal expert around who can explain the difference between this issue and the Apple suit?
    Will Amazon's behaviour have any impact on the Apple case? And, if not, why not?
  • Reply 11 of 85
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by Lulu139 View Post

    …a legal expert… 

     

    No; just prefacing.

     

    Will Amazon's behaviour have any impact on the Apple case?


     

    WHEN Amazon is found to be illegally abusing their monopoly standing, Apple’s case could be overturned and Amazon could very well pay a huge fine.

  • Reply 12 of 85
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,348member

    I've just informed our purchasing department that we are not doing anymore orders through Amazon. This needs to stop. I thought the whole lawsuit against Apple was ridiculous and still do. Amazon and Walmart need to be stopped.

  • Reply 13 of 85
    spicedspiced Posts: 94member
    Obviously lots of under table $$$ been waxed between them while law abiding Apple got sued!
  • Reply 14 of 85
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    You know, up until recently, I wasn't particularly impressed with Amazon either.

    Until I read this:

    http://www.amazon.com/forum/kindle/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx3J0JKSSUIRCMT

    This sounds reasonable to me.
  • Reply 15 of 85
    jungmark wrote: »
    DOJ: nothing to see here, folks. move along.

    Maybe Amazon could get the DOJ to investigate the authors for forming a conspiracy.

    Not an ice cube's chance in Hell. Amazon is untouchable as long as they don't collude with publishers to set pricing.
  • Reply 16 of 85
    mhiklmhikl Posts: 471member
    Could Apple legally forgo its 30% cut to drop the price of books to land a kick to Bozo's goolies? Or would that be considered illegal competition? Or how about just returning the 30% back to the customer, right after purchase, the book seller getting its full return.
    Or does this just refer to hardcover books?
    Whatever it takes, something has to be done to this goon of a company.
  • Reply 17 of 85
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by mhikl View Post

    …illegal competition?

     

    If we live in a world in which this exists, is there a point in living anymore?

  • Reply 18 of 85
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,532member
    [CENTER][/CENTER]Amazon is obviously trying to strong arm publishers in the same way that WalMart strong arms product manufacturers and distributors. This is only effective when the retailer has huge market share. How they get that huge market share is often by crushing as many of the little guys as they can so nobody wants to compete with them with so little remaining potential at stake. While we lament the plight of the oppressed this is market driven economics and capitalism at its best. This is all fueled by massive individual self interest that ignores the true cost of products and services that are bought and sold. We don't really care why we are able to buy TVs for $50 and laptops for $200. We just want to buy them at low cost to us. The system ain't perfect, so at the end of the day it always comes down to people making individual choices. If you don't like bullies then take your business elsewhere. But don't expect someone like the government to step in. Based on what we've seen time and again getting the government engaged is usually the best way to turn a small problem into a much bigger problem and guarantee that everyone loses.
  • Reply 19 of 85
    danv2danv2 Posts: 29member

    Tell the US Government and the White House to stop Amazon.com from punishing authors and harming choice here. http://wh.gov/luWX7

     

    I just made that petition; and hopefully we get 100,000 sigs.

  • Reply 20 of 85
    Hmm. Is Amazon the only place you can buy books? Is Amazon the only place Hachette can sell books? The fact that Hachette can't get people to go somewhere else to buy their products says a lot about this dispute. Hachette isn't really interested in getting books sold, which their numbers over the last few years seems to indicate.

    It should also tell Hachette's authors that they are not very good at messaging or marketing to book-buying customers. Why are they paying Hachette to not provide alternative markets? It would be simple to have popular titles advertised as being available anywhere but Amazon.

    Amazon certainly isn't spotless in this, but at the end of the day it's a pissing contest between two Wall Street plutocrats.
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