Bezos Defends Amazon Against Guild
Apr. 15, 2002
NEW YORK (AP) _ In response to a plea from Amazon.com head Jeff Bezos, thousands of e-mail have been sent to the Authors Guild in protest of its call for writers to remove links on their Web sites to the online retailer.
The Authors Guild has criticized Amazon's policy of offering used editions of new books, noting that neither authors nor publishers receive royalties. The guild e-mailed members last week and urged them to de-link from Amazon.
The guild represents more than 8,000 published authors, although less than 10 percent are believed to have Web sites.
Bezos answered late Sunday by e-mailing both individuals and stores around the country who had sold used books through Amazon.com. He asked them to defend Amazon's contention that used books actually help authors by bringing in new readers who otherwise couldn't afford a purchase.
``As you may have read in the newspapers over the past few days, we've been criticized by the leadership of a small, but vocal organization because we sell used books on our website,'' Bezos wrote.
``We've found that our used books business does not take business away from the sale of new books. In fact, the opposite has happened.''
Bezos called for supporters to e-mail the Authors Guild, using a ``polite and civil tone.''
According to Amazon.com spokesman Bill Curry, more than 4,000 pieces of e-mail had been sent to the Authors Guild by early Monday afternoon. Paul Aiken, the guild's executive director, said the figure was probably accurate but that the organization's position would not change.
``Bezos has misrepresented us,'' Aiken said. ``We don't assert all used book sales hurt the industry. We say that Amazon's particular way of marketing used books is harmful for authors and for publishers.''
Neither side has produced numbers backing its argument. Aiken said he had no statistics indicating that used books were detracting from sales of new ones. Curry could not offer any immediate examples of authors helped by Amazon's policy.
Used editions are traditionally associated with out of print or obscure titles. However, Amazon customers can get old copies of current, popular books. For example, Michael J. Fox's ``Lucky Man'' is available in hardcover for $16.07 or used for $12.98.
Amazon itself does not sell the book. Instead, customers are allowed to offer used editions through the online retailer. Amazon collects a 99 cent fee for each sale, plus 15 percent of the purchase price.
On the Net: http://www.authorsguild.org