When the cabal announced their joint plea yesterday for the US Dept of Justice to investigate Amazon for being a big meanie, I was careful to link to all of the supporting statements from Authors United, the ABA, AU spokesperson David Streitfeld, The Authors Guild,and so on (but not the AAP, which surprisingly is not a member of the cabal).
I feel it is only fair to gather a similar post on responses to the cabal's plea, and so I have started assembling a list of the better commentaries, snarks, and legal critiques on the topic.
My list is probably incomplete (I'd be happy to add to it if you know a good one I missed), but so far I have Joe Konrath's fisking of Authors United's 24 page missive:
More nonsense from Authors United. Their letter to the Assistant Attorney General in crazy bold italics, my level-headed responses in regular text.
There's also Juli Monroe over at Teleread, who poked holes in a couple of the arguments. (My opinion mirrors hers, only with more expletives bleeped out.) And Jen Rasmussen has a wonderfully snarky satircal response on her blog Storyrook Rd.
And last but not least, Passive Guy dissected the motivations for Authors United and its allies, noting on The Passive Voice that:
Amazon is not a competitor to authors. So why is Authors United, a handful of authors who are unrepresentative of authors as a whole, complaining about Amazon? PG says never seems to occur to them that, if a genius organization with Amazon’s corporate values had never come into existence, book sales would almost certainly be much lower than they are today. Amazon has made books far more accessible via both price and online convenience to average American consumers than they were before Amazon.
Amazon Publishing notwithstanding, Amazon is not a serious competitor to traditional publishers. The publishing industry was in a long-term consolidation phase before Amazon became a power. The creativity generated by dozens of US publishers was rapidly disappearing into the maw of huge corporate conglomerates before Amazon.
Amazon does not act as a literary agent for any authors, so why is the Association of Authors’ Representatives complaining?
Amazon’s real competitors, including such companies as Barnes & Noble and Kobo, don’t appear to be participating in this petition to the Justice Department. Barnes & Noble has allied with the ABA on some other issues, but not this one. Perhaps they have better antitrust legal advice than the signators do.
His commentary is a fun read, but there is an obvious flaw. I don't think anyone has pointed this out yet, but PG overlooks the fact that one can make an antitrust complaint against a business partner, and not just a competitor. The Price Fix Six, for example were prosecuted for the actions that the five publishers took against their customer Amazon, not their competitor.
But that is not a huge flaw with PG's argument; he's still right in that the cabal does not include any of Amazon's business partners ( not the major publishers, indie authors, etc), and of Amazon's competitors, only the ABA has spoken up.
This blogger does wonder why the AAP, the Big Five, and B&N/Kobo et al are sitting this one out; could it be that they fear that the cabal itself will be investigated by the DoJ?
image by dmuth