Preston: 'Authors United will fight on'

Preston: 'Authors United will fight on'

Campaign group Authors United will continue its “efforts to persuade” the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department in the US to look into Amazon’s market practices, saying there are "still many open questions about Amazon's market power".

The group was set up by American author Douglas Preston (pictured) during the dispute between Amazon and Hachette Book Group (HBG) in America over e-book terms, which was resolved last week.

In a letter to the writers who signed petitions trying to persuade Amazon to agree terms with HBG - including names such as James Patterson, Stephen King, Tracy Chevalier, Sophie Hannah and Philip Pullman - Preston wrote that the deal between the two companies, which allows HBG to set consumer prices for its books, was “not unreasonable” as he understood it.

“I want to thank all of you for your courage in facing down Amazon,” he continued. “Each one of you risked retaliation and potential damage to your career to sign our letters. As a Hachette author, I want especially to thank those many non-Hachette authors who had little to gain and a great deal to lose by taking a public stand.”

But Preston said the settlement did not change the problem that “one corporation now controls more than 50% of the book market in the United States -- a corporation, moreover, that in our view used its market dominance in an irresponsible and destructive way”.

He confirmed that Authors United would still be pursuing its aim, announced earlier this year, of asking the Justice Department to open an inquiry into Amazon.

Preston said: “There are still many open questions about Amazon's market power. Those questions are best explored, not in an atmosphere of confrontation and high emotion, as we have just passed through, but in a reflective way that considers the long-term economic health of the book industry and the ability of authors to earn a living -- as well as the larger issues of freedom of speech, diversity and healthy competition in the marketplace.

“For this reason, we believe it is vital to continue our effort to persuade the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department to look into Amazon's market practices. Our letter, and our behind-the-scenes work, is well in process and we feel it makes sense to see it through.”