Q: How Do You Tell When a Publishing Ind. Event is Only Hearing From One Side of a Discussion?

12190785393_784a047f21_bAnswer: You can tell when even The Bookseller is willing to come out and name the partisan group that is behind the event.

A bunch of people are getting together in Washington DC next Wednesday ostensibly to debate Amazon’s impact on the publishing industry. If you’ve read Konrath’s and Eisler’s post on the event, you might think that it is being hosted by a think tank called New America, but today The Bookseller set us straight.

Lisa Campbell reported on Wednesday that the even is actually being held by Authors United, a group whose raison d’etre is “Amazon is evil and must be stopped”:

Campaign group Authors United is set to hold an event to discuss Amazon’s “enormous market power” and the “misuse” of that power, in Washington DC next week.

The event, to be held on Wednesday 27th January at the New American Foundation, is entitled Amazon’s Book Monopoly: A Threat to Freedom of Expression? and aims to “shine a light on how Amazon’s monopoly, and its heavy-handed behaviour, are already affecting the free flow of ideas in our society.”

Those participating in the discussion include Scott Turow, Susan Cheever, Mark Coker, Franklin Foer, Jonathan Kanter, Eric Simonoff, Maurice Stucke, Lina Khan, Haley Sweetland Edwards, Barry Lynn, Douglas Preston, and John R MacArthur.

I had planned to pay as little attention to this event as I could.

The topic been debated to death, and what with this event’s participants all drawn from the “I hate Amazon” club, it was damned obvious that the gathering was going to a one-sided propaganda event where Amazon would get a drumhead court martial before receiving a predetermined verdict.

I mean, the loaded question in the title (Amazon’s Book Monopoly: a threat to free expression?) was enough to tell us where this event would end up, so there was little reason to give it much attention.

But then The Bookseller announced the event, and in doing so they dropped several clues about just how biased next week’s event will be. This event is not being held by any impartial outside group; instead it is hosted by Authors United, a group which even The Bookseller can’t pretend is unbiased.

No, The Bookseller described Authors United as a “campaign group”, not as a group of authors, or even as author advocates. That description is a concession of just how partisan Authors United is and what that group has been up to over the past 18 months.

The Bookseller has stopped maintaining a pretense that Authors United is impartial; instead, AU is on a campaign against Amazon.

Of course, everyone knew this already, and that pretense was (at best) threadbare, but the fact that an industry mouthpiece like The Bookseller has decided to drop the pretense says a lot.

image by Andrew Gustar

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. puzzled21 January, 2016

    So when is Authors United going to be investigated for collusion?

    We have a bunch of independent business people colluding to harm a single business. I’m not sure if Amazon can be considered a competitor…

  2. fjtorres21 January, 2016

    That the event is being held in Washington instead of NY tells you all you need to know. It is an attempt to draw idiot politicians into their campaign. It’s not as if they haven’t been open about their desire to get government to protect them from open competition.

  3. Will Entrekin21 January, 2016

    Generally, I would have said when a “publishing industry event” occurs.

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 January, 2016

      @ Will

      LOL, this is true.

  4. FSkornia21 January, 2016

    I really hope the Washington Post sends a reporter to cover this. I’d love to see how they’d report about this event.

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 January, 2016

      I don’t know anyone personally, but I will bring it to their attention.

  5. […] Authors United's debate recitation coming up on Wednesday, this week promises to have an excess of "evil Amazon is evil" whining, and […]

  6. […] Authors United’s debate recitation coming up on Wednesday, this week promises to have an excess of “evil Amazon is evil” […]


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