Amazon to Author’s Guild: Back Off!

Amazon.com first
pooh-poohed complaints
from the Author’s Guild about used book sales on
the e-tail site, but now the company is taking them seriously enough to
warrant a response from the boss.


Seattle-based Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has responded by
defending the company’s practice of allowing the sale of used books — and
oh-by-the way mentioning that the complaining group is the “same organization
that from time to time has advocated charging public libraries royalties on
books they loan out.”


The New York City-based Author’s Guild is urging its members
to eliminate links to Amazon on their Web sites, claiming that used book
sales do “damage to the publishing industry, decreasing royalty payments to
authors and profits to publishers.”


Bezos said simply that the group’s assertion “is not correct … We’ve found
that our used books business does not take business away from the sale of new
books.”


“…when someone buys a book, they are also buying the right to resell that
book, to loan it out, or to even give it away if they want. Everyone
understands this,” he said in an e-mail distributed to sellers of used books
on the Amazon site.


He also said that offering used books “is simply good for customers. It makes
out-of-print books available and other books more affordable. Making books
affordable is a fundamental good (as are libraries).”


He concludes by urging Amazon users to send e-mail to the executive director
of the Author’s Guild “explaining how the sale of used books actually helps
the entire book industry.”


The guild, which calls itself the nation’s largest society of published
authors, griped about the sales
practice
when Amazon first allowed used-book sales by its users two years
ago.


Amazon is not actually in the used book business itself; 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.

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