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Authors Deliver Angry Message to Amazon Board Over Hachette Book Delays

Some of the publisher’s authors are sending a letter to members of the retailer’s board of directors

There will be no delay in the message that Hachette authors are sending to Amazon’s Board of Directors.

In a letter posted at AuthorsUnited.net, the publisher’s writers are scolding the retail giant for its tactic of delaying shipping times of Hachette-issued books, which discourages hard copy sales in favor of Kindle sales. The maneuver is a hardline tactic that Amazon has taken in its fight with the publisher over e-book prices; Amazon is seeking to pay Hachette less for e-books, which are generally sold to the public for $9.99.

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Six months into Amazon’s sanctions, the authors say that the maneuver has “driven down Hachette authors’ sales at Amazon.com by at least 50 percent and in some cases as much as 90 percent.”

The drop in sales have impacted hardcovers, paperbacks and e-books, creating an even distribution of hardship for the authors, the letter says.

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While acknowledging the high cost and underhanded nature of capitalism, the authors seek to differentiate books from other retail products, and paint Amazon as continuing the tradition of book-banning dictators and blacklisters.

“Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler,” the letter reads. “We all appreciate discounted razor blades and cheaper shoes. But books are not consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to China. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers. This is the process Amazon is obstructing.”