Stephen King, Nora Roberts and Robert Caro are among the hundreds of authors who have added their names to an online letter criticizing Amazon.com for restricting access to works published by Hachette Book Group.
The letter, initiated by Hachette author Douglas Preston, urged Amazon to resolve its standoff with Hachette over e-book prices and other issues. Readers were asked to email Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at firstname.lastname@example.org and “tell him what you think.” Amazon has slowed delivery on books by Preston and other Hachette authors, limited discounts and removed pre-order tags for upcoming releases.
Authors endorsing the letter include James Patterson, Andrew Solomon and Scott Turow. Some on the list are Hachette writers, but many are published by rival companies.
A letter to our readers:
Amazon is involved in a commercial dispute with the book publisher Hachette, which owns Little Brown, Grand Central Publishing, and other familiar imprints. These sorts of disputes happen all the time between companies and they are usually resolved in a corporate back room.
But in this case, Amazon has done something unusual. It has directly targeted Hachette’s authors in an effort to force their publisher to agree to its terms. For the past month, Amazon has been:
—Boycotting Hachette authors, refusing to accept pre-orders on Hachette’s authors’ books, claiming they are “unavailable.”
—Refusing to discount the prices of many of Hachette’s authors’ books.
—Slowing the delivery of thousands of Hachette’s authors’ books to Amazon customers, indicating that delivery will take as long as several weeks on most titles.
As writers — some but not all 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. 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 customercentric company.”
Many of us supported Amazon from when it was a struggling start-up. Our books started Amazon on the road to selling everything and becoming one of the world’s largest corporations. We have made Amazon many millions of dollars and over the years have contributed so much, free of charge, to the company by way of cooperation, joint promotions, reviews and blogs. This is no way to treat a business partner. Nor is it the right way to treat your friends. Without taking sides on the contractual dispute between Hachette and Amazon, we encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business. None of us, neither readers nor authors, benefit when books are taken hostage. (We’re not alone in our plea: the opinion pages of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which rarely agree on anything, have roundly condemned Amazon’s corporate behavior.)
We call on Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers.
We respectfully ask you, our loyal readers, to email Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, at email@example.com, and tell him what you think. He says he genuinely welcomes hearing from his customers and claims to read all emails from this account. We hope that, writers and readers together, we will be able to change his mind.
If you are a writer and you would like to add your name to this list, please email Douglas Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Robert A. Caro
Sir Harold Evans
James McGrath Morris
Nell I. Painter
Sydney Ladensohn Stern
Louisa Young, a.k.a. Zizou Corder