Thursday, September 25, 2014

Authors United Next Tries DOJ

After deciding Amazon’s Board of Directors might not understand Amazon’s business practices, [see my previous blog] Authors United now thinks they can educate the United States Department of Justice on antitrust issues as reported by The Bookseller in this article .

According to Douglas Preston, the leader and spokesperson for Authors United, “They (DOJ) are expecting this letter and they have told me that they welcome any information we can provide.”
Well, sure. The DOJ is always interested in information about any company’s anticompetitive actions. However, unless Authors United can provide specific actions Amazon has taken and document their competitive consequences, Authors United has nothing. And, given the lack of details in anything they have so far produced, I am so far past skeptical as to be disbelieving.

Here’s a suggestion for Authors United: Work with your publishers to provide consumers alternatives to Amazon. Have your publishers offer your books at significant discounts. Offer free shipping on all hardcover purchases or orders of paperbacks that exceed, say $35. Figure out a way to sign those books. Encourage your publishers to offer larger discounts to independent bookstores so they can provide lower prices to their customers.

While the Amazon/Hachette dispute continues each of the A-listers (regardless of publisher) could schedule joint bookstore appearances with Hachette debut authors garnering them more than sufficient publicity to offset Amazon’s antics and make positive news in the bargain.

Be creative in ways that have a real chance for making a difference in the future of publishing and in the lives of your fellow authors. Put on your grown-up clothes and act as adults, rather than continue your recent antics, which remind us of spoiled children asking any and everyone else to make a “bully” play fair.

~ Jim


  1. Having had 4 books published by a traditional publisher and 2 that I self-published, I have mixed feelings about this. I do like your suggestion that AU provide be more specific in their demands and accusations. As someone published with Amazon, I have to say, part of their success comes from the fact that they treat authors very well. They make it easy for readers to obtain our books and they help with publicity. I love book stores, especially indies, and that'e where I go first for a book I want, but if they choose not to carry that book because they don't approve of the way it was published, I'll just go somewhere else to get it. As a reader, it's the book that counts - not the publisher or the bookstore.

  2. Sandy -- thanks for your comments. One of my problems with Authors United is that some of the issues they lay (correctly) at Amazon's door (such as favoring some publishers over others) are also issues for Barnes and Noble and the Indies. As you know, many Indies will not carry something published by CreateSpace because it is owned by Amazon, quality of the book or appeal of the author not withstanding.

    And from a reader's perspective, I agree that as long as someone publishes the book, I can get my hands on it if I choose.

    ~ Jim