Amazon has come under fire in recent months as it continues to fight with book publisher Hachette over e-book pricing, but the company is now getting a show of support from a somewhat unlikely group: authors.
A group of authors who have self-published on Amazon’s platform have started a Change.org petition in support of the company’s practices.
The full petition, which clocks in at nearly 4,500 words, explains why the authors believe consumers should support Amazon, even as the company continues to restrict stock on Hachette books and prevent customers from pre-ordering Hachette titles.
“Amazon has done more to liberate readers and writers than any other entity since Johannes Gutenberg refined the movable type printing press,” the petition reads. “With the advent of e-books and the ability to ship paper books to your doorstep in record time and at affordable prices, Amazon is growing overall readership while liberating the voices of countless writers, adding to the diversity of literature.”
Many of these writers are hardly impartial when it comes to talking about Amazon, of course. The company’s willingness to allow and support authors publishing their own work directly to the Kindle Store has served as a boon for writers who otherwise would not have found a place to publish at all.
Meanwhile, a second letter has reportedly circulated among prominent authors, criticizing Amazon for trapping them in the middle of its negotiations with Hachette, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. This letter, started by best-selling author Douglas Preston, has a number of high-profile signatories, including James Patterson and David Morrell. All three men have books published by Hachette.
These actions highlight a division among authors. Some, like Preston, feel that the traditional publishing ecosystem is serving them well, and are frustrated with Amazon’s efforts to extract concessions that hurt the authors as well as publishers.
Meanwhile, others get more value out of selling their products directly, and weren’t able to get any use out of a traditional publisher. To them, Hachette is just one in a long line of dinosaur-like entities that exploit authors for corporate gains. Amazon, which offers authors who publish directly a cut of up to 70 percent of their sales, is a godsend compared to the smaller benefits authors get from the traditional publishing system.
In the midst of all this, some editors have tried to find a middle path through all the negotiations, including award-winning science fiction author John Scalzi. In a post to his blog, Scalzi voiced skepticism about all of the parties involved.
“I like what Amazon’s doing in the audiobook space, especially as it involves me,” he wrote. “I think what it’s doing to Hachette authors sucks, in no small part because it happened to me, a few years back, when Amazon had a similar fight with Macmillan. Amazon has helped my career; it’s also made it clear to me that it doesn’t give a s– about my career when its interests are elsewhere. Amazon isn’t the only business partner I have that I can say that about.”