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Amazon Deflects Authors Guild

Online retail giant Amazon.com, which got its start selling books, is defending itself from the wrath of the Author's Guild, which is again complaining that the site is selling used copies of current books.

The complaint is not new. The guild, which calls itself the nation's largest society of published authors, griped about the sales practice when Seattle-based Amazon first allowed used-book sales by its users two years ago.

This time around, the New York City-based Authors Guild is urging its members to eliminate links to Amazon on their Web sites

The Guild issued a statement saying that "Amazon's practice does damage to the publishing industry, decreasing royalty payments to authors and profits to publishers," according to the Associated Press.

But it isn't necessarily so, Amazon says.

A company spokesman was quoted as saying the practice "encourages customers to explore authors or genres they might not otherwise try because of the price. That ends up helping authors and publishers."

Amazon is not actually in the used book business; rather, customers may sell their books through the online retailer. Amazon collects a 99-cent fee for each sale, plus 15 percent of the purchase price. No royalties are paid on used book sales.

This isn't likely to be resolved soon, and unless there's a lawsuit, it's likely to remain a stand-off.

The Guild, meanwhile, is urging its members to link their sites to rival bookseller Barnesandnoble.com and BookSense.com, a site for independent booksellers. Neither site has a policy like Amazon's.