On Sunday, a letter denouncing Amazon’s tactics in the ongoing negotiations between it and book publisher Hachette will run as a paid, full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Signed by more than 900 authors, the “Authors United” letter calls Amazon out for blocking sales of Hachette titles, singling out authors “for selective retaliation” and “inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery.”
The letter, overseen by thriller author Douglas Preston, who has been a vocal opponent of Amazon throughout the negotiations, was signed by traditionally published authors including Stephen King, Lee Child, Anna Quindlen, Barbara Kingsolver, Meg Wolitzer, John Grisham and Malcolm Gladwell, among hundreds of others.
The letter suggests that readers “email Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, at email@example.com, and tell him what you think. He says he genuinely welcomes hearing from his customers and claims to read all emails at that account. We hope that, writers and readers together, we will be able to change his mind.”
In response, Amazon posted an unsigned “Readers United” letter at around 3 AM ET on Saturday morning and also emailed the same letter to KDP authors with the subject line “Important Kindle Request.” The letter repeats some of the same arguments on pricing that Amazon made in a comment posted on its forums on July 29. It claims that “ebooks are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more.” It also says “we will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture.”
The letter, which doesn’t list an author other than “The Amazon Books Team,” concludes by saying: “We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us. Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com. Copy us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.”