If Douglas Preston has anything, it’s gumption. The best-selling author recently took figurative pen to figurative paper to compose a letter directed at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. The contents? A complaint telling the mega online retailer that it needed to stop putting writers in the middle of its negotiations.
Amazon recently went on a crusade to discourage people from buying books from Hachette Publishing because it wanted a better deal on the publisher’s e-books. The hullabaloo put authors like Douglas Preston — who makes a living from selling said books — in the crossfire. And frankly, that’s ruffled more than a few feathers.
So far, 909 writers have signed onto the letter, which will be published as a full-page ad in the The New York Times this Sunday. Some of those writers include big names like Stephen King, John Grisham, Lemony Snicket, Michael Chabon, and Nora Roberts.
Preston says that since Amazon built its empire on the backs of books, it should be more loyal to its authors. And he has a point. Alhough the online retailer sells everything under the sun now, it all began with paperbacks and the tagline “Earth’s biggest bookstore.”
Of course, Amazon might just be taking out its frustration over the potential $800 million loss it might report this year. It might just be looking for ways to boost profits when the company has sunk so much of its funds into producing video content — the primary reason for the loss.
The group of authors protesting Amazon’s squeeze on Hachette authors is called Authors United. Amazon has claimed that Preston is just a front for Hachette, but it is worth noting that many of the authors who’ve joined the group aren’t even published by Hachette.
Back in May, VentureBeat reported that more than 5,000 books have been affected by the Hachette and Amazon conflict. Then, at the end of July, the company blamed the whole ordeal on the notion that e-books should always be cheaper than print books.
There’s a lot of back and forth here, and unfortunately, no end in sight.