Amazon vs. Authors: A Rumpus Roundup


More than 900 authors signed a full-page New York Times advertisement scolding Amazon for drawing them into their continuing fight with publisher Hachette. The ad has drawn the ire of self-published authors who see traditional publishing houses as gatekeepers protecting an elite few.

In the most meta coverage of the fracas, the New York Times wrote about the ad, explaining that it was spearheaded by Douglas Preston, who split the $104,000 cost with a handful of other authors.

Amazon fired back, launching Readers United, a website registered more than a year ago, begging self-published authors to email Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch with requests to lower the cost of ebooks.

Undercutting traditional retailers might finally have caught up with Amazon. All this hullabaloo with Hachette comes at a time when Amazon announced a quarterly loss of $126 million.

Writer Neil Gaiman summarized the dispute:

I see two huge multinational corporations having a fight over contracts and terms, and authors staring up at them from ground level. It’s like Godzilla battling Gamera, and we’re looking up from the sidewalks of New York rather worried that a skyscraper might topple on us.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →