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Yes, the contract fight between Amazon and book publisher Hachette is still going on; yes, there are still shipping delays and no pre-orders for many Hachette titles. Some of the public debate subsided in the last couple lazy weeks of summer, but now the fall is here and with it comes another letter from Authors United, the pro-Hachette group of authors led by bestselling thriller author Douglas Preston.
Following its letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on August 9, Authors United posted a new letter to Amazon’s board of directors online Monday. Amazon’s “sanctions have driven down Hachette authors’ sales at Amazon.com by at least 50 percent and in some cases as much as 90 percent. These sales drops are occurring across the board: in hardcovers, paperbacks, and e-books,” the letter states, continuing: “We find it hard to believe that all members of the [company]Amazon[/company] 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?”
As of Monday morning, the letter was signed by 1,069 authors: “No group of authors as diverse or prominent as this has ever come together before in support of a single cause.” Signatories include Stephen King, Suzanne Collins, James Patterson, David Baldacci, Cheryl Strayed, Lee Child and Jennifer Egan, among plenty of others. It will be sent “via Federal Express” to each of Amazon’s ten board members — who include Kleiner Perkins’ William “Bing” Gordon, Tom Alberg of Madrona Venture Group and Patricia Stonesifer of nonprofit Martha’s Table.
In response to Authors United’s August letter, Amazon posted a George Orwell–namedropping letter of its own at the domain ReadersUnited.com. We’ll see if Amazon responds this time.