Amazon, Hachette battle builds as Stephen King, James Patterson and 900 authors sign letter asking for readers’ support

By Daniel S Levine,

The battle between Amazon and publisher Hachette is still going on and the authors whose books are affected are not happy. Over 900 authors have signed an open letter to readers, asking them to contact Amazon chief Jeff Bezos to tell him to stop using their work as pawns.

The letter is expected to appear in the New York Times Sunday. It was written by author Douglas Preston, who is leading the group Authors United.

Preston notes that feuds over profit margins between publishers and retailers are common, but in this situation, Amazon is using authors as pawns. As previously reported when the battle began in May, Amazon has been listing books by Hachette authors as “unavailable” or delaying shipments. The fight even resulted in J.K. Rowling’s new book being unavailable for pre-order. Preston also pointed out that some books from Hachette authors haven’t been discounted.

“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. Moreover, by inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery, Amazon is contradicting its own written promise to be ‘Earth's most customer-centric company.’”

In an interview with The Guardian, Preston called Amazon’s behavior “thuggish,” but Amazon called him “an opportunist who seeks readers' support while actively working against their interests.”

But Preston is sticking to his guns, the written word. He recruited Stephen King, James Patterson and other authors to his efforts.

“We respectfully ask you, our loyal readers, to email Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, at jeff@amazon.com, and tell him what you think,” the letter concludes. “He says he genuinely welcomes hearing from his customers and claims to read all emails at that account. We hope that, writers and readers together, we will be able to change his mind.”

image courtesy of Roger Wong/INFphoto.com



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