Hachette and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) have been involved in a row for months now with a number of the world’s most famous authors accusing the online retailing giant of an “ugly history” of blocking the authors’ books. Perhaps the most vocal of these authors has been Stephen Colbert, who has used his nightly “news” show as a platform for a number of these authors during his nightly interview sessions.
Hachette vs Amazon: Ugly six month fight
The fight has at times gotten quite ugly with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) openly delaying shipments of Hachette authors’ books as well as refusing pre-orders among other tactics Amazon has employed. This is not a small publishing house but one that counts Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen King, Michael Pollan and Donna Tartt among its lineup of award winning writers and novelists.
Today, the group which is represented by the group Authors United, sent letters to each of Amazon’s ten board members claiming that Amazon has been responsible for a dip in sales for some authors of up to 90% if 90% can simply be called “a dip.”
The group specifically blames Amazon senior vice-president, Russell Grandinetti, for the dispute. He’s gone on record as saying that “authors are the only leverage we have” while blaming Hachette for an unwillingness to sit down with him and saying that he was “forced to take this step because Hachette refused to come to the table.”
Today’s letter strongly refuted this “forced” behavior.
“As one of the world’s largest corporations, Amazon was not ‘forced’ to do anything. This is an obvious fact. We all have choices. Amazon chose to involve 2,500 Hachette authors and their books. It could end these sanctions tomorrow while continuing to negotiate. Amazon is undermining the ability of authors to support their families, pay their mortgages, and provide for their kids’ college educations. We’d like to emphasize that most of us are not Hachette authors, and our concern is founded on principle, rather than self-interest,” Authors United writes.
“We find it hard to believe that all members of the Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) board approve of these actions. 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,” the group writes.
Amazon’s board is chaired by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos and includes Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, and former head of the Gates Foundation, Patricia Stonesifer, among others.