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Andrew Wylie Speaks Out Against Amazon

amazon304Amazon and Hachette have been locked in a feud over eBook pricing since May 2014. Many members of the publishing community have spoken out about this situation and some have even mobilized to form the Authors United group.

Earlier this year, several high profile authors including Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, and Ursula Le Guin agreed to join in Authors United’s fight against Amazon. Who convinced this illustrious group to take part? None other than Andrew Wylie.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the veteran literary agent shared his opinion on this dispute. For Wylie, “the issues at the heart of the conflict are both margin and price…Losing the fight over margins would be an immediate blow to the publishers’ profits, but losing control over pricing could be fatal.” Do you agree with Wylie?

Amazon Has Established a New Contract With Simon & Schuster

SimonSchusterAmazon and Simon & Schuster have established a new multi-year print and digital agreement. The previous contract was scheduled to expire in two months.

Here’s more from The Wall Street Journal: “Simon & Schuster, whose recently published works include Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators and Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster, will set the consumer prices of its digital books, and Amazon will be able to discount titles in certain situations, according to one person familiar with the agreement. Simon & Schuster titles also will be well promoted on Amazon’s website, the person said.”

Many speculate that this development will put more pressure on Hachette to wrap up the ongoing dispute. Several writers have publicly spoken about the situation including Stephen Colbert, John Green, and Malcolm Gladwell. Earlier this week, economist Paul Krugman wrote New York Times article criticizing Amazon’s business practices. How do you predict this will affect the conflict between Amazon and Hachette?

Paul Krugman Speaks Out Against Amazon

NYT_Twitter_KrugmanNobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has written a New York Times op-ed criticizing Amazon. For book selling, he goes so far as to say that it has a “robber-baron-type market power.”

In his piece, Krugman (pictured, via) compares Amazon with Standard Oil and talks about the consequences that may ensue should the online retail giant continue its current standard of operations. He feels that Amazon has abused its powers to retaliate against Hachette throughout the dispute between the two companies. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“So far Amazon has not tried to exploit consumers. In fact, it has systematically kept prices low, to reinforce its dominance. What it has done, instead, is use its market power to put a squeeze on publishers, in effect driving down the prices it pays for books — hence the fight with Hachette. In economics jargon, Amazon is not, at least so far, acting like a monopolist, a dominant seller with the power to raise prices. Instead, it is acting as a monopsonist, a dominant buyer with the power to push prices down.”

Amazon to Open Pop-Up Retail Shops in California

amazon304Amazon plans to open a pop-up retail shop in two California cities, San Francisco and Sacramento, on October 22nd. Visitors will be able to test out the latest Kindle projects.

Here’s more from GeekWire: “While Amazon gets a lot of credit for dominating e-commerce sales, the store openings show that it can’t ignore that a vast majority of retail revenues today still occur in the offline world. The struggle between the two is often depicted as a war between online and offline, and if that’s true, then Amazon’s move into stores is the highest compliment the e-commerce giant can pay to physical retail.”

The San Francisco location will be inside the Westfield San Francisco Centre. At this time, Amazon has not revealed the whereabouts of the Sacramento location. If this brick-and-mortar venture proves successful, the company may install more storefronts in the future.

High Profile Writers Set to Join Authors United

amazonlogoSeveral high profile writers have agreed to join in Authors United’s fight against Amazon. The new members include Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul, Milan Kundera, and Ursula Le Guin.

The organization aims to convince the online retail conglomerate to end its dispute with Hachette Book Group USA. Last month, Authors United publicly posted a letter addressed to Amazon’s board members asking them to take a stand on this issue.

When asked about her participation in the group, Le Guin submitted this statement to The New York Times: “We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author. Governments use censorship for moral and political ends, justifiable or not. Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable.”

Malcolm Gladwell Speaks Out Against Amazon

amazon304Many members of the literary community have shown great concern about the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute. In an interview with the Financial Times weekend magazine, Malcolm Gladwell spoke out in disapproval of the online retail giant’s retaliatory actions.

While Gladwell did not voice an opinion about the actual feud, he objects to Amazon’s practice of making Hachette’s books unavailable for purchase and delaying order shipments. Gladwell “thought Amazon wanted to be nice to me. I thought their endgame was to woo authors. So, then why are they sabotaging us?”

Read more

Is Bezos’ Super-Secret Campfire Cooling?

6629205_563906a381_zDid they stay or did they go? You might never know if your fave authors were feted at Jeff Bezos’ annual super-secret Campfire this past weekend. Word is the elite attendees are cautioned that what plays at Campfire, stays at Campfire.

In 2011, Bezos “flew in Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Alice Walker, Neil Gaiman, and Khaled Hosseini, among others, to a think tanky event he called ‘Amazon Campfire,’” Dennis Johnson noted in his Melville House blog. Since then, radio silence.

The Renaissance Weekend-like event of fabulous meals, fascinating formal talks led by folks like Neil Armstrong, horseback riding and skeet shooting, and sweet swag (down vests, fleeces) continued for the most part under the radar, until The New York Times reported Sunday on the fifth autumn weekend soiree under the headline, “A Writerly Chill at Bezos’ Fire.”

Seems a bit of the bonhomie has been siphoned off the warm, cozy atmosphere by the it’s-not-personal-it’s-business Amazon/Hachette dispute. The Times’ David Streitfeld wrote: “Some repeat Campfire attendees who have supported Hachette in the dispute say they were not invited this year…The event has become as divisive as the fight.” Read more

Authors United Calls on Amazon Board Members to Take a Stand

authorsunitedAuthors United, a group of more than 900 authors including Stephen KingMalcolm Gladwell and Suzanne Collins, which has been pushing Amazon to end its dispute with Hachette, has sent a letter to Amazon board of directors asking them: “Do you as an Amazon director approve of this policy of sanctioning books?”

The letter, which is published on the group’s site, calls on these 10 board members to take a side in the Amazon/Hachette dispute. Here is an excerpt:

We are confident that you, as an Amazon board member, prize books and freedom of expression as much as we do. Since its founding, Amazon has been a highly regarded and progressive brand. But if this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company’s fine reputation last? We appeal to you, with hope and goodwill, to exercise your governance and put an end to the sanctioning of books, which are the very foundation of our culture and democracy.

Peter Carey Refused to Ghostwrite Assange Memoir

careyassangePeter Carey did not mince words in a rather juicy interview to Bookseller today where the two-time Booker-winning novelist discussed his forthcoming novel Amnesia, along with an alliterative list of other topics currently on his mind: Amazon, Assange and Americans up for Bookers.

On Julian Assange, Carey said that he was approached by his American editor Sonny Mehta and asked if he would like to co-write the book. “But I thought, no. Two control freaks? It wouldn’t work.”

Probably a wise move since we all know what happened to the unlucky fellow who did take up the offer, novelist Andrew O’Hagan.

Instead, Carey tapped his fellow Aussie for his own inspiration Read more

Authors United Plans Next Move Against Amazon

authorsunitedLast month more than 900 authors including Stephen KingMalcolm Gladwell and Suzanne Collins signed a letter  which ran as a full page ad in The New York Times, calling readers to email Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and ask him to end the company’s dispute with Hachette. Now the group is planning its next move.

Author Doug Preston, who is leading the group, sent out an email this week to authors that signed the petition letting them know that the group is planning their next move. In the email, he also warns that  Simon & Schuster authors could suffer the same fate as Hachette authors, as the publisher is reportedly in negotiations with Amazon.

Publishers Weekly has republished the email. Here is an excerpt: Read more

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