Nearly 1,100 Authors Say Amazon Feud With Publisher Has Hurt Sales By Up To 90%

A month after more than 900 authors signed a letter sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking him to resolve his company’s ongoing contract dispute with book publisher Hachette, an even larger group of writers has written to Bezos and members of the Amazon board of directors to explain how this standoff has hurt authors.

For those coming to this story late, Amazon and Hachette Book Group, one of the nation’s largest publishers, have been unable to agree on wholesale pricing terms, most notably on e-books.

Amazon is attempting to pressure Hachette into making a deal by refusing to take pre-orders on new Hachette titles. Shipping on the publisher’s in-stock titles is often delayed, and books from other publishers are receiving more attractive discounts.

“These sanctions have driven down Hachette authors’ sales at Amazon.com by at least 50 percent and in some cases as much as 90 percent,” reads the letter from Authors United, which currently has around 1,070 names attached. “Because of Amazon’s immense market share and its proprietary Kindle platform, other retailers have not made up the difference. Several thousand Hachette authors have watched their readership decline, or, in the case of new authors, have seen their books sink out of sight without finding an adequate readership. These men and women are deeply concerned about what this means for their future careers.”

Amazon has yet to post a response on its ReadersUnited.com site to this latest letter from the authors, but in the reply to the August letter, the e-tail giant pointed out that it had made a number of offers to Hachette that it claims would have minimized any damage to authors.

“We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute,” wrote Amazon at the time. “Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.”

[via GigaOm]