Hachette authors appeal to Amazon board members to lift sales restrictions

September 15, 2014 04:32 PM

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Hachette Book Group writers are taking their fight with Inc. directly to the online retailer’s board.

Hundreds of writers with a group called Authors United signed a letter addressed to Amazon’s 10 directors, insisting the board must act to end Amazon’s “sanctioning” of books, including refusing pre-orders, delaying shipping and reducing discounts. The dispute became public earlier this year as Hachette and Amazon sparred over e-book pricing in contract negotiations.

“We are certain that you, as an Amazon board member, prize books and freedom of expression as much as we do,” the authors said in the letter, which was posted online. “Since its founding, Amazon has been a highly regarded and progressive brand. But if this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company’s fine reputation last?”

The writers said the actions have cut Hachette authors’ sales—of all formats of books—through by at least 50%, and in some cases as much as 90%. The missive follows a letter signed by more than 900 writers and published in the New York Times last month, urging readers to contact Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos. Amazon, which Forrester Research estimates controls 60 percent of the e-book market, says sales of digital titles go up when prices are cut, lifting total revenue.

Mary Osako, a spokeswoman at Seattle-based Amazon, and Sophie Cottrell, a spokeswoman for New York-based Hachette, didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed messages seeking comment.

“Because of Amazon’s immense market share and its proprietary Kindle platform, other retailers have not made up the difference,” the letter said. “Several thousand Hachette authors have watched their readership decline, or, in the case of new authors, have seen their books sink out of sight without finding an adequate readership.”

Amazon appealed directly to authors in a letter in July, offering them all of the proceeds from the sale of any e-book during the dispute.




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