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Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s Tactics

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Stack of Books
Stack of Books

Amazon.com continues its losing war against book publishers, especially in the PR battlefield. When authors as well known as Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip Roth, and Milan Kundera side against you, it might be time to start dialing back the rhetoric. 

Last spring, when Amazon began discouraging customers from buying books published by Hachette, the writers grumbled that they were pawns in the retailer’s contract negotiations over e-book prices. During the summer, they banded together and publicly protested Amazon’s actions.

Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.

(click here to continue reading Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics – NYTimes.com.)

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Rate this packaging

Why does it even matter to you, oh book consumer? For instance, since Jeff Bezos is clearly on the political right, or at best, Libertarian in his outlook, when he favors Paul Ryan’s book over an exposé of the Koch Brothers, we should pay attention. 

Sons of Wichita” by Daniel Schulman, a writer for Mother Jones magazine, came out in May. Amazon initially discounted the book, a well-received biography of the conservative Koch brothers, by 10 percent, according to a price-tracking service. Now it does not discount it at all. It takes as long as three weeks to ship.

“The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” by Representative Paul Ryan has no such constraints, an unusual position these days for a new Hachette book.

Amazon refused to take advance orders for “The Way Forward,” as it does with all new Hachette titles. But once the book was on sale, it was consistently discounted by about 25 percent. There is no shipping delay. Not surprisingly, it has a much higher sales ranking on Amazon than “Sons of Wichita.”

An Amazon spokesman declined to explain why “The Way Forward” was getting special treatment.

Not Barnes and Noble
Not Barnes and Noble

Book sellers have always made decisions about what books to stock, but Amazon was supposed to be the largest bookseller on the planet, where you can get any book you want. Seems as if Jeff Bezos’ company is starting to reflect his anti-tax, anti-small business, anti-regulation views.

As Ms. Ursula K. Le Guin puts it:

“We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,” Ms. Le Guin wrote in an email. “Governments use censorship for moral and political ends, justifiable or not. Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable.”

(click here to continue reading Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 29th, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Books,Business

Tagged with , ,