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Monday, August 11, 2014

Authors Speak Up About the Amazon-Hachette Dispute

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"Amazon Tries to Woo Authors in Hachette Dispute"
By Bryan Chaffin
     Perhaps you have been reading about the ongoing dispute between Amazon and Hachette. Or maybe you've been wondering why you haven’t been able to pre-order some authors’ print books and e-books on Amazon or why the shipping time on some Amazon books is weeks instead of days. 

     In the Sunday New York Times (NYT) (8/10/14), more than 900 authors published an open letter to readers detailing their opposition to Amazon’s tactics and calling on Amazon to stop punishing Hachette authors by delaying shipment of their books, among other things. Amazon appears to view its actions against the authors as merely collateral damage, while the authors see them as personal attacks that threaten their livelihood.

     In closing, the authors ask Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without further hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers.” They also ask all readers to email Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, at, and tell him what you think.”

     Click HERE to read the full text of the authors’ letter and the names of the signers. Among the paranormal/fantasy/science fiction authors who signed this letter are the following: Kelley Armstrong, Lauren Beukes, Holly Black, Marie Brennan, Jacqueline Carey, Suzanne Collins, P.N. Elrod, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Heather Graham, Jane Lindskold, Melissa Marr, Christopher Moore, Nora Roberts, Elisabeth Waters, and Barbara Wright.

     To make the situation even more interesting, another groupmostly authors who self-publish through Amazonhas taken the opposite point of view, supporting Amazon and blaming Hachette (and all of the major publishers) for the ongoing dispute. Click HERE to read an article explaining their position. Click HERE to read their petition on in which they claim that "Amazon is not the one to blame. The players that deserve your derision in this standoff are Hachette in particular, and the New York "Big Five" in general." Unfortunately, we don't know which authors have signed this petition because the actual names of the signers are not readily available. It ends with just this phrase: "Signed, concerned readers and writers." Most sources identify the author of this petition as Hugh Howey, the author of the SILO series, which is published entirely through Amazon's self-publishing resources.   

     In analyzing the Amazon vs. publishers situation, I can see pros and cons on both sides of the table. However, Amazon has taken a new and disturbing step by punishing authors to gain leverage in its fight with Hachette. The authors are powerless to fight back and are at the mercy of both Amazon and their publishers. Although Amazon has done a great job of supporting new authors through their on-line publishing services, the actions they are taking against the Hachette writers are a below-the-belt punch at a vulnerable group. Yes, there are some big-name authors among the Hachette group (and among the signers of the NYT letter). But most of the Hachette authors are not millionaires like Stephen King and James Patterson; they are simply writers who are trying to earn a living in a tough profession. In my opinion, they deserve the right to sell their books without restriction or retaliation. 

     Click HERE to read another NYT article about this situation. Click HERE to read about Amazon’s recent blockade of Disney movies. Click HERE for yet another article detailing the behind-the-scenes intrigue.

     After considering the issue from all sides, what do you think? Be a proactive reader and put your opinion out there, either by sending an email to Bezos or by signing the petition or by doing both. Even if you agree with the opinion piece, though, do you believe that Amazon is being fair to the Hachette authors?

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