July 22, 2014

Authors United push back against Amazon, develop “long-term strategy”


Sherman Alexie is one of a number of authors to recently sign a letter calling for an end to the Amazon/Hachette dispute.

Sherman Alexie is one of a number of authors to recently sign a letter calling for an end to the Amazon/Hachette dispute.

A group of authors who recently signed a letter calling on “Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers” are currently developing a long-term strategy to fight back against the relentless monopsony.

According to The Bookseller, author Douglas Preston, who organized the letter, recently wrote to signatories to inform them that a full page advertisement containing the letter, and a list of signatories, would be published in the Sunday New York Times. The letter was funded by a “dozen authors,” though The Bookseller does not name any of them. But the letter was signed by a number of notable authors, including Sherman Alexie, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Paul Auster, Lee Child, Donna Tartt, Elif Batuman, Robert Caro, Lauren Beukes, Suzanne Collins, and Philip Pullman. The group is collectively known as Authors United.

According to Preston, Authors United will also begin implementing a “long-term strategy,” aimed at raising public awareness about Amazon’s tactics, though there is no word yet as to exactly what that will entail. A portion of Preston’s letter can be found below:

 “This struggle with Amazon may go on for a while. Our group, which we call Authors United, is developing a long-term strategy in case our effort here is not effective. I will be in touch with you about that.

“Together, our group comprises many of the finest writers in the English language, with billions of books sold, and we include journalists and authors in every field and genre imaginable and from all levels of success. I would particularly note that many debut authors have courageously signed this letter. Amazon’s recent attempt to dismiss us as a bunch of rich, bestselling authors trying only to protect our income is not going to work.

“We have many loyal and committed readers. They listen when we speak. That represents power; perhaps even enough power to face down one of the world’s largest corporations.”

Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.