The book industry has kicked off a massive coordinated media campaign today. The target?
Lead by Authors United spokesperson David Streitfeld, multiple groups in the book industry have simultaneously decided today to send letters to the US Department of Justice, asking that the Doj investigate Amazon for being a big meanie.
Just about every group is involved. Streitfeld has posted a piece in the NYTimes on behalf of Authors United. The American Bookseller Association has sent a letter, and so has Authors United (you can find both letters on the ABA website).
Yes, Authors United has finally followed through on the promise they made last November to pursue their vengeance against Amazon to the ends of the earth. According to the ABA, Authors United is joined in their effort by the Association of Authors’ Representatives, which has sent a letter. And finally The Authors Guild has added their voice to the chorus (PDF).
Wow. Now that is what I call a circus.
I plan to spend some time over the next couple days parsing the letters sent to the DoJ (I'm also going to watch for legal experts to have a go) but for the purposes of this post I would remind you of two small details.
The first is that Amazon was investigated by the DoJ during the investigation of the Price Fix Six (the Apple ebook price-fixing conspiracy). The Justice Dept did not find anything they could prosecute.
The two letters I've read so far mention details and behaviors going back a decade or more, and yet the activities did not lead to prosecutions. Do you really think that some ambitious young lawyer would pass on going after Amazon, when it could make their career?
The second detail is a notable absence.
Where is the Association of American Publishers? Its biggest members hate Amazon as much as anyone, and yet I don't have any news of the AAP sending a letter to the DoJ (I'm waiting for a response to my query). Why hasn't the AAP joined the party?
Update: My contact at the AAP was unable to respond to my query. She did not have a prepared statement because the AAP isn't part of this circus (weird, but true).
Add everything together and it makes me wonder what is really going on here.
If there's no merit to the letters, then all we have here is a huge noisy spectacle. Surely I'm not the only one to wonder why the spectacle suddenly broke out in the middle of July, why all these groups suddenly decided to send letters all on the same day.
What are they trying to distract us from?
I don't have answers to these questions, but I do plan to start looking. Any time there is this much of a fuss about something, it's a cover for the real story.
Any guesses what that could be?
image by RCB