Amazon's German division has responded to criticism from close to 1,200 authors over its actions in its terms dispute with Bonnier, saying the publishing group is out of step with other major German publishers in its terms on e-books.
Authors including Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, together with various German writers' associations, have penned an open letter to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and head of Amazon Germany Ralf Kleber protesting about what they describe as "extortion methods" - in German, "erpressungsmethoden" - in Amazon's negotiations and saying they are punishing authors as a tactic in the dispute.
Recent months have seen Bonnier authors "boycotted" and their books not kept in stock, as well as suffering slow delivery and a disappearance from recommendation lists, the authors claim, saying that Amazon is now contradicting its own promise of being the most customer-centric store in the world because it is misinforming its clients and hindering their purchases.
The letter states that the authors do not wish to take sides in the dispute between Amazon and Bonnier, but are calling on Amazon to stop taking books and thus authors "hostage".
But in a statement, Amazon.de commented: "For the majority of their titles, Bonnier have chosen to set terms that make it significantly more expensive for us to buy a digital edition than it is to buy the print edition of the same title. This is a poor choice because with an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, and no transportation. Ebooks can and should be less expensive than print books, and this should be reflected in the terms under which booksellers buy their books from publishers."
The online retailer added: "The fact is Bonnier's terms are out of step with other major German publishers. We are working diligently with Bonnier to reach a new agreement more in line with typical industry terms in Germany."
The comment is the latest statement from usually-reticent Amazon in the continuing public war of words between the retailer and authors, as well as publisher Hachette, and German trade body the Borsenverein, as the retailer and publishers tussle over terms.
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