Friday, October 3, 2014

Round 12 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs Authors United

Stephen King signed. I take back everything I said about him.
It is rare to find authors united against (or even for) anything. Authors, like tigers, prefer to hunt alone. But Amazon changed all that when it affected their sales, first by pulling Macmillan titles from its list, and then by pulling pre-orders from Hachette titles.

Amazon has engaged in a number of tactics which have ruffled the feathers of not only authors, but entire governments - except for ours. 

That may soon change.

Authors United, an ad hoc group of over 1000 authors, has called for a Department of Justice investigation into possible anti-trust law violations committed by Amazon. Among the literary luminaries who have joined Authors United are: Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul, Ursula Le Guin and Milan Kundera. The estates of Saul Bellow, Roberto BolaƱo, Joseph Brodsky, William Burroughs, John Cheever, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller and Hunter S. Thompson have also signed on.

In a parallel move, the Author's Guild, the country's largest advocacy group for writers, met with Justice Department officials in early August. The Guild, which has more than 8,500 members, raised concerns that Amazon is violating antitrust law.

(In this video, Dick Cavett and stand-up comedian Dave Hill have a Tough Talk about the Amazon vs Everybody Wars. A bit of satire never hurt anybody ... not much anyway.)

For a countdown of the previous 11 rounds of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars click HERE.

Authors United’s Next Move: DOJ

Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2014

Wednesday, bestselling thriller writer Douglas Preston, who oversees the group Authors United, confirmed that the organization intends to contact the Department of Justice requesting an antitrust inquiry into Amazon's tactics.

Authors United formed to voice the concerns of authors whose sales have been hurt as a result of the stalled sales terms negotiations between Amazon and Hachette. The Financial Times reported the group's intention to request that the DoJ mount an antitrust investigation into Amazon's approach to its business, and Preston confirmed the move to PW.

According to Preston, a letter addressed to William Baer, assistant attorney general for antitrust, has been drawn up and calls for a closer look at Amazon's practices. News of the letter, said Preston, was leaked "very prematurely."

The pending letter to the DoJ is the third action taken by Authors United. In August, the gorup made its first move by running a signed full-page ad in the New York Times asking readers to write to Amazon head Jeff Bezos. Authors United is also, currently, in the midst of putting together its second project, which involves FedExing a letter to members of the Amazon board of directors which questions whether the board approves the policy of sanctioning books. The letter states: “These sanctions have driven down Hachette authors' sales at by at least 50 percent, and in some cases by as much as 90 percent.”

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