Amazon has kinda-sorta responded to a recent letter from high-profile authors urging the book giant to resolve its ongoing dispute with publisher Hachette. In a nutshell, Amazon told ‘em where to stick it. Read on for non-euphemistic direct quotations.
Earlier this week, a group of influential authors, including Stephen King, told Amazon to back off its pressure tactics against Hachette.
“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,” argued the groups.
Amazon is in a price dispute with Hachette over ebook pricing and wants sell ebooks at $9.99 or lower. Amazon argues that low prices encourage more overall buying in the long-run.
Earlier this summer, Amazon began discouraging customers from buying Hachette books, including delaying shipping on authors such as J.K. Rowling and Stephen Colbert (it has since restored normal shipping times for at least some authors.)
Amazon claims it made several overtures to Hachette, including giving authors 100 percent of all sales until the dispute was resolved. Without a satisfactory response, Amazon began to punish Hachette and the authors.
“We call on Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without further hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers,” argued the authors group.
In the response letter, Amazon claims that Hachette is backward-looking, just like twentieth-century publishers who worried that paperback books would destroy the wider publishing industry.
“The fact is, many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower ebook prices will ‘devalue books’ and hurt ‘Arts and Letters.’ They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will ebooks,” argues Amazon.
Amazon has a reasonable argument, but it doesn’t really answer why they resorted to delay tactics. If Amazon isn’t ashamed of its stance, it shouldn’t be afraid to address this specific issue.
Either way, Amazon says it won’t back down. “We will never give up our fight for reasonable ebook prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture.”
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