Authors United ramps up Amazon campaign

Authors United ramps up Amazon campaign

Authors United is to run a full-page advertisement in the New York Times this weekend with an open letter signed by authors asking Amazon to end its dispute with Hachette Book Group (HBG).

Meanwhile in an email to supporters, writer Douglas Preston, who set up the protest group, claimed: “A few days ago, Amazon appears to have turned the screws a little more on Hachette authors by eliminating discounts on most of their books.”

Preston told The Bookseller that he had noticed a lack of discounting on books by authors including David Baldacci. Amazon.com is currently not showing discounts on most of Baldacci’s novels, published by Hachette imprint Grand Central Publishing. However, it is listing The Finisher, a children’s novel published by Scholastic, at $11.24, discounted from $17.99.

Meanwhile listings for James Patterson show that most of his novels are not now being discounted on Amazon.com, with the hardbacks of Second Honeymoon, released in summer 2013, and Private L.A., released earlier this year, both from Little, Brown US, selling for the full-price of $28 on Amazon.com, although discounted from £18.99 to £9 on Amazon.co.uk (the UK publisher is Penguin Random House). One of Patterson’s newest titles, Invisible, however, is still listed at a discounted price of $16.80 on Amazon.com, down from $28.

Amazon has not responded to a request for comment on the issue.

Patterson is one of the signatories to the Amazon letter, which can be viewed in full on the Authors United site, and which calls on the retailer to “to resolve its dispute with Hachette without hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers”. Over 900 writers, including David Baldacci, Tracy Chevalier, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Mark Haddon, Sophie Hannah, Stephen King, James Patterson, Philip Pullman and Donna Tartt, have now signed the letter.

The advertisement, which Publisher’s Weekly said will run in Sunday’s New York Times, has been paid for by a number of the signatories. Preston said in an email note to supporters: "A group of authors picked up the tab so there was no need to send out a general appeal. Thanks to the many of you who offered."

Authors United said last month that it is “developing a long-term strategy” in case the dispute is not resolved soon.

HBG in the US and Amazon.com have been negotiating terms for a number of months now, with the result that some HBG authors have found their books subject to delayed shipping on Amazon, while others have had their books made unavailable for pre-order.

In its latest statement on the dispute, Amazon said that its aim was to secure lower e-book prices for customers, and that it felt Hachette “is sharing too small a portion” of e-book revenue with its authors.