Remember the book publishing industry’s astro-turfing group Authors United?
The group has been keeping a low profile since their last failed attempt to get Amazon investigated for non-existent antitrust violations (August 2015, also August 2014) and it looks like the group is
throwing in the towel er, declaring victory and going home.
The Bookseller reports that Authors United head Douglas Preston sent an email to AU members announcing a shake up.
Authors United was originally set up in 2014 to push back against Amazon and its treatment of authors in its dispute with Hachette. Preston yesterday wrote to members to say that while it had prevailed against Amazon once, it was “only part of a graver situation that is not going away, but getting worse – and perhaps very, very much worse given the incoming administration”.
Explaining why Authors United had decided to merge with the Authors Guild Foundation, Preston told members: “The guild is extremely concerned about potential high-level appointments in areas that affect writers: copyright, anti-trust, libel law, and freedom of the press. The Authors Guild cannot and will not stand by while the livelihood of authors and press freedoms are under attack.”
“We prevailed against Amazon once but the struggle is far from over,” Preston said. “This is going to be a long effort and the Goliaths are only getting bigger and more powerful.”
The Guild will continue the work of Authors United on behalf of writers.
I just love Preston’s revisionist history, don’t you?
His group failed to achieve any visible change in Amazon’s practices or conduct, and Authors United also failed several times in 2014 and 2015 to get Amazon investigated for alleged antitrust violations, and yet Preston still says that the group triumphed over Amazon.
I know that authors frequently invent new meanings for words, but inverting the dictionary definition of “prevail” is going a step too far. (Unless he meant it sarcastically, in which case that sentence would make a lot more sense.)
Authors United was was created in 2014 during the Hachette-Amazon contract dispute, and it has always taken the legacy publishing industry’s position against a company which has created more opportunities for authors to reach readers than authors have ever had before.
From its beginning Authors United w as a puppet for the book publishing industry, and now it is a late and unlamented puppet.
P.S. I am still waiting for a statement from The Authors Guild on the supposed merger. I will update this post with the official statement when it is released.
image by MIKI Yoshihito