Amazon vs. Authors: A Rumpus Roundup

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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 Rumpus Deputy Editor and founder of English Kills Review an online literary magazine focused on books, authors, and New York City. His writing has appeared in Joyland Magazine, The Billfold, Fiction Advocate, Electric Cereal, Thought Catalog, and io9. He holds a Master’s Degree in English from Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →