Earlier today no fewer than 4 media outlets launched simultaneous attacks on Amazon. With a strong coalition of media allies that spans the Atlantic, Hachette now has the obstreperous and obstinate retailer on the run.
Led by David Streitfeld of the NY Times, today's salvos take Amazon to task for daring to continue to ignore previous media attacks. Featuring a lead photo of Philip Roth in an $800
throne chair, David writes:
Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.
They also want to highlight the issue being debated endlessly and furiously on writers’ blogs: What are the rights and responsibilities of a company that sells half the books in America and controls the dominant e-book platform?
David is joined by Salon.com, which points out that Amazon is playing political favorites:
Here, courtesy of the Times, is a tale of two Hachette books:
“Sons of Wichita” by Daniel Schulman, a writer for Mother Jones magazine, came out in May. Amazon initially discounted the book, a well-received biography of the conservative Koch brothers, by 10 percent, according to a price-tracking service. Now it does not discount it at all. It takes as long as three weeks to ship.
“The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” by Representative Paul Ryan has no such constraints, an unusual position these days for a new Hachette book.
Amazon refused to take advance orders for “The Way Forward,” as it does with all new Hachette titles. But once the book was on sale, it was consistently discounted by about 25 percent. There is no shipping delay. Not surprisingly, it has a much higher sales ranking on Amazon than “Sons of Wichita.”
An Amazon spokesman declined to explain why “The Way Forward” was getting special treatment. A spokesman for Mr. Ryan, the 2012 Republican nominee for vice president, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Hachette declined to comment.
And even Canada's Globe and Mail is getting into the fight, noting that Amazon is evilly harming Canadian authors as well:
The Betrayers, a new novel by Toronto author David Bezmozgis, was published in the United States on Tuesday. But American readers trying to order the hardcover edition from Amazon.com are being informed that the novel “usually ships within 2 to 3 weeks,” a surprisingly long wait for an anticipated new release such as this. The novel’s American publisher, however, is Little, Brown and Co., a division of French conglomerate Hachette, and if you know anything about the publishing industry, you’ll know the company is locked in a months-long war of attrition with the giant online retailer.
And last but not least, The Bookseller scored an interview with Douglas Preston, who explained that Authors United was still not taking sides and was sending the letter to the DOJ more with a sense of sorrow than anger:
In an email to signatories of the first two letters, Preston said: “I am very sorry that this step [the call to the DoJ] is necessary. I had hoped our efforts would have resulted in some gesture from Amazon, which is well aware of the damage it is doing to the careers of several thousand authors. Instead, we have been met with disparagement and what seems to be an escalation in sanctions, at least in terms of the number of books that are affected.”
With this massed firepower, surely Amazon's knees will buckle, Jeff Bezos' will will break, and authors and publishers will march forward into a triumphant future!
images via the Sofia Echo