Authors United Sending Protest Letter to Amazon Directors
Authors United, the group of more than 1,000 authors led by Douglas Preston that has protested Amazon's treatment of authors in its battle against Hachette, is sending a protest letter to the 10 members of the Amazon board of directors, appealing to them, "with hope and goodwill, to exercise your governance and put an end to the sanctioning of books, which are the very foundation of our culture and democracy."
Authors United members have until Wednesday to sign the letter, which then will be sent to the board, the New York Times said.
Amazon's sanctions against Hachette authors include refusing preorders, delaying shipments, reducing discounts and using pop-up windows to cover authors' pages and redirect users to non-Hachette books, and have led, the letter wrote, to significant drops in sales for many Hachette authors.
The letter emphasized the signers' diversity, and noted that many are not Hachette authors: "No group of authors as diverse or prominent as this has ever come together before in support of a single cause. We are literary novelists and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists; thriller writers and debut and midlist authors. We are science fiction and travel writers; historians and newspaper reporters; textbook authors and biographers and mystery writers. We have written many of your children's favorite stories. Collectively, we have sold billions of books. Amazon's tactics have caused us profound anguish and outrage."
The letter continued: "We find it hard to believe that all members of the Amazon board approve of [the sanctions]. We would like to ask you a question: Do you as an Amazon director approve of this policy of sanctioning books?
"Efforts to impede or block the sale of books have a long and ugly history. Would you, personally, want to be associated with this? We feel strongly that such actions have no place in a common commercial dispute. Amazon has other negotiating tools at its disposal; it does not need to inflict harm on the very authors who helped it become one of the largest retailers in the world....
"We are certain that you, as an Amazon board member, prize books and freedom of expression as much as we do. Since its founding, Amazon has been a highly regarded and progressive brand. But if this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company's fine reputation last? We appeal to you, with hope and goodwill, to exercise your governance and put an end to the sanctioning of books, which are the very foundation of our culture and democracy."
The board includes several venture capitalists, as well as Jamie Gorelick, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the major Washington, D.C., law firm, and deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration.