The Amazon-Hachette War Has Reached the Next Level: AMAZON WANTS YOU!

British Propaganda World War II (Wikipedia)
Today KDP authors - those of us who use Kindle Direct Publishing - got a direct letter in our email box from the "Amazon Book Team" that reminded us that what e-books are doing to publishing is similar to what paperbacks did when they first came out at the end of World War II: far from destroying publishing, paperbacks expanded it.

As an economist, I buy that. There's no question in my mind that e-books are not a subtraction but an addition to both the book-verse and the pool of readers.

The letter ended with a rousing call to action and I quote:

"We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch:

Copy us at:

Please consider including these points:

- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
- Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
- Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
- Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at

As you can see from a sample of related articles below, the Amazon call for action immediately found a vast echo in the blogosphere.

I recommend reading the comments to Chris Meadows article in Teleread, click here. One comment in particular stands out, Michal W. Perry's. He argues that the true story is that Amazon would like to pay authors 40 or 50% royalties, not the current 70%. And he reminds us that for audiobooks, it has already moved against authors, recalling what Amazon's affiliate Audible did in February this year to independent authors: “In a disturbing move that caused an eruption among self-published authors, Amazon’s ACX division has announced a reduction and simplification of royalty rates. Rates that previously started at 50% and escalated to 90% have been reduced to a flat 40%.”"

Yes, that is something to ponder.

The other thing that surprised me is that Amazon is asking for help from its authors yet it has set up a site for the purpose with the name "readers-united". Now, as suggested by several bloggers, perhaps that was meant as a dig at the "Authors United" set up by the 900 traditionally published authors who've signed a letter in support of Hachette (published in the New York Times at a cost of some $100,000). But the implication is also that customers are, as always, first and foremost on Amazon's mind - in the case of books, readers. Not authors. Does that mean it will send an email around to all its readers and ask for their help? Maybe but I doubt it. Readers are not interested in getting drawn into a fight between giant corporations - nor are most writers, I wager.

What is your opinion? Ready to take sides and sent that email to Hachette's CEO, Michael Pietsch?