Sunday, July 19, 2015

Joe's Letter to the Assistant Attorney General

The Hon. William J. Baer
Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Whomever Has The Thankless Job Of Sorting Through Worthless Letters to Assistant Attorney General Baer:

My name is Joe Konrath, and I'm a professional fiction writer of more than forty books.

I'd like to apologize for the group who call themselves Authors United, who recently sent you a letter pleading for you to investigate Amazon.

To be blunt, Authors United are a bunch of whiny little babies with overblown senses of entitlement, and they deserve derision, ridicule, mockery, and contempt, and my tone in this letter of response will reflect that. They're wasting your time with their nonsense, and they only speak for a tiny fraction of professional writers. I'm truly sorry you have to deal with them.

I don't know if you're required to take their bogus complaint seriously, or if you can simply dismiss their bad logic, ridiculous examples, and outright lies. If you've already seen through their nonsense, you can stop reading this letter right now, and toss it into the garbage on top of theirs.

But, if their letter prompted you to seek more information about Amazon and its role in the publishing industry, maybe I can save you a bit of time by explaining a few things.

For the past fifty years, a handful of big publishers have functioned as a cartel, controlling the majority of what has been published. They did this by having an oligopoly over paper distribution. If a writer wanted to get their work into a bookstore, the only way to do so was to sign a contract with them.

My best guess is that out of every 1000 books written, only 1 was published. That meant 999 out of 1000 books were effectively deep-sixed, prevented from ever reaching the public.

Those writers lucky enough to be picked by a publisher were forced to sign one-sided, unconscionable contracts that required giving up rights for the length of copyright (the author's life plus 70 years), among other onerous terms such as non-compete and termination clauses, in return for poor royalties. All publishers offered the same, lockstep terms, and writers had no choice but to accept them, or never reach readers.

In short, the publishing industry effectively censored the majority of writers, and screwed most of the rest.

But there were a few exceptions to the abuse. Over the years, some authors were lucky enough to become bestsellers, which gave them tremendous wealth.

Some of these writers signed the Authors United letter you received.

As successful members of the status quo, these rich jerks want to retain their spots in the pecking order. Except, now they have an obstacle in their way.

Amazon.

By putting the customer first, Amazon has grown to become the largest retailer of books in the world. They've done so by offering a wide variety of books at low prices, coupled with terrific customer service. They also, almost single-handedly, invented the ebook market, which readers love.

At first, publishers liked this new revenue stream. The publishing cartel thought they could control the price of ebooks the same way they controlled the price of paper books. A hardcover book costs less than $2 to print, but publishers stamp $29.95 on the cover (what other industry puts prices on their products?) and expect retailers to sell it for that amount. They wanted to do the same with ebooks.

Amazon, realizing that ebooks had no printing, warehousing, shipping, or delivery costs, rightfully felt ebooks should cost less.

Publishers didn't like that, eventually colluding illegally to force Amazon to accept their pricing structure, keeping the price of ebooks high.

The DOJ wisely spanked the publishers for their collusive ways. But a small group of boneheads, acting out of greed or stupidity or a combination of the two, still want to blame Amazon for their problems.

I'm going to go through their short letter and explain why they're wrong. Their nonsense in italics, my counterpoints in regular text.

From the beginning of our nation, Americans have understood the central role that open and competitive markets play in promoting freedom of expression and protecting our democracy. The country's founders, Congress and the Supreme Court have repeatedly made it clear that a concentration of private power over any marketplace of information is incompatible with American ideals of liberty, free speech, and the unfettered flow of ideas.

Amazon earned its current market position by innovating, offering a wide selection and great customer experience, and keeping prices low. But Amazon's power is only a result of people choosing to shop there. Insisting that Amazon controls the "marketplace of information" is ridiculous. There are thousands of bookstores in the US, and thousands of online retailers that sell books. Amazon doesn't control anything.

Today a single company, Amazon, has gained unprecedented power over America's market for books. We are not experts in antitrust law, and this letter is not a legal brief. But we are authors with a deep, collective experience in this field, and we agree with the authorities in economics and law who have asserted that Amazon's dominant position makes it a monopoly as a seller of books and a monopsony as a buyer of books. 

At least they admit they aren't antitrust experts. But that doesn't excuse them for misunderstanding what "monopoly" and "monopsony" mean, or from wasting your time.

According to published figures, this one corporation now controls the sale of:

• More than 75 percent of online sales of physical books.

• More than 65 percent of e-book sales.

• More than 40 percent of sales of new books.

• About 85 percent of ebook sales of self-published authors.

Amazon is not a monopoly. They have plenty of competition, including Apple, Google, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Kobo, Smashwords, Scribd, Oyster, and more than 2000 independent bookstores.

And even if Amazon were a monopoly, its 20 year track record has shown a consistent effort to keep prices low.

You can guess why publishers, and their lackies, don't like this tactic.

With its own traditional imprints and its near-total control of self-publishing, Amazon has also become the largest publisher and distributor of new books in the world.

This is a very important point. Remember those 999 books out of 1000 that could never reach readers because the publishing cartel rejected them? Amazon allows those authors to self-publish those titles, and make them cheaply and easily available to the public. And now those authors that the publishing industry passed up are outselling the books published by the major publishers. Visit http://authorearnings.com for the figures.

In recent years, Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America's readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.

This is bullshit.

Amazon has allowed more readers access to more books than any other company in history.

Amazon hasn't damaged the career of any author. They don't have the power to. They've certainly never targeted authors, or retaliated against authors who have spoken against them. Look at all of the Authors United signatories; all of them have books for sale on Amazon.

The only fear Amazon has generated is in publishers--overpaid middlemen who refuse to innovate, collude rather than compete, and are no longer needed because Amazon and its retail competitors have broken their oligopoly by allowing writers to reach readers without them. And a small minority of authors who Big Publishing has made rich don't like this.

Amazon has no control over ideas in our society. They don't control the Internet. Or the media. Or the government. Or the content of books. Or the distribution and sale of books.

Amazon is a retailer that readers, authors, and publishers choose to deal with. No one is being forced to deal with Amazon, and Amazon has scores of competitors.

Amazon, to pressure publishers over the past eleven years, has blocked and curtailed the sale of millions of books by thousands of authors;

First of all, Amazon can't block book sales. As a retailer, it has the freedom to decide what it wants to sell, and for how much. To suggest that Amazon somehow sent out an armed militia to prevent a book from being sold is insane.

Amazon, during its dispute with Hachette in 2014, appears to have engaged in content control, selling some books but not others based on the author's prominence or the book's political leanings;

What Authors United doesn't mention is that Amazon's contract with Hachette had expired months earlier. It was under no obligation to sell Hachette's titles, but it continued to do so in good faith. As negotiations dragged on (and you can guess what they were about--Hachette wanted to control the price of ebooks and charge more for them), Amazon no longer stocked some Hachette titles, and no longer offered pre-orders for some Hachette titles. After all, why should they stock or sell books when they might not be able to negotiate a new contract?

Authors United also failed to mention that on three different occasions, Amazon offered to monetarily compensate Hachette authors for lost sales while Hachette dragged its feet during negotiations. Hachette rejected Amazon's offers.

Amazon has used its monopsony power, and its ability to threaten punishment, to extract an ever greater share of the total price of a book from publishers;

Wait a second... a retailer negotiating with a supplier violates anti-trust laws?

Of course it doesn't. But Authors United doesn't let facts get in the way of a good story.

If you're curious, this is how the current ebook payout structure works:

Amazon gets 30% of the list price of an ebook.

Authors get 17.5% of the list price of an ebook.

Publishers get 52.5% of the list price of an ebook.

Compare this to self-published authors, who get the full 70% of list price.

A much better argument is that Big Publishing used its oligopoly power to keep author royalties low. Since no publisher ever offered authors higher royalties, authors had no choice. It didn't matter if a writer went to Penguin or Hachette, both offered the exact same royalty rate. And it didn't matter if a reader bought a Penguin or a Hachette book, they were both the same price, conveniently printed on the cover.

this has resulted in publishers dropping some midlist authors and not publishing certain riskier books, effectively silencing many voices;

This is just plain ridiculous. No author is being silenced. Any author who has been dropped or rejected by a publisher can self-publish on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, Scribd, Oyster, Google, Apple, etc. And they'll make much better royalties doing so.

Publishers do not create content. Writers create content. Publishers are overpriced middlemen. Once they were essential to authors, because of their paper distribution cartel, and they took terrible advantage of us. Now, thanks to companies like Amazon, publishers are nothing more than a very expensive value-added service.

Amazon routinely sells many types of books below cost in order to acquire customers for unrelated lines of business and to drive less well capitalized retailers - like Borders - out of business.

Amazon did not drive Borders out of business. Lousy management put Borders out of business. And loss leaders aren't illegal. Twenty years earlier, Crown Books became the third largest chain in the nation by discounting books.

This practice, extending over many years, has caused price deflation across the industry and reduced the amount of revenue available for publishers to invest in new books, thus depriving readers of wider choice;

See what they did there? This isn't about authors. Amazon's insistence on low prices for its customers is hurting publishers. Which is great, in my opinion. Publishers have parasitically lived off the blood of tens of thousands of authors over the last five decades. The alternative Amazon and its competitors present--self-publishing--coupled with Amazon's ongoing efforts to make books affordable and available to everyone in the USA, has broken Big Publishing's stranglehold on writers and readers.

Before, readers could only choose books that Big Publishing selected, at the price Big Publishing insisted upon. Now, we finally have a free market, with competitive pricing and previously unavailable books able to reach readers.

Amazon offers readers more choices, not fewer. Publishers were the ones depriving readers of choice. Publishers were the ones marking up the cost of books over 1000%. Publishers were the ones preventing writers from reaching readers.

And now publishers are hurting? Boo hoo! Get the hankies! But even if every publisher in the world went out of business, it wouldn't deprive readers of choice, because writers can reach readers without publishers.

Amazon routinely uses its market power to steer readers toward its own books and away from books published by other companies;

Hold on, can businesses be forced to sell products they don't want to sell?

Penguin Putnam is the largest publisher in the world. They've used their market power to steer readers toward their own books, and away from mine. Can the DOJ go after them for me? Please?

Amazon dictates pricing to self-published authors, requiring them to price their books within a specific range or be subjected to a 50 percent cut in royalties.

Translated: Amazon incentivizes authors to keep ebook prices within a certain range by offering them higher royalties for doing so. Authors can choose a 35% royalty, or a 70% royalty.

Contrast this with publishers, who offer no choice; authors are stuck with 17.5% of a price the publisher sets.

So for a $3.99 ebook, a self-published author on Amazon earns $2.78. A $3.99 ebook published by a Big Publisher earns the author $0.68.

The present inaction by regulators is not in keeping with the history of government response when a single company has come to dominate a venue for communication. In the 20th century, Congress repeatedly passed laws that prevented a concentration of ownership in vital informational markets, including newspapers, radio and television.

Amazon is not an information market. Amazon does not control authors or books or readers. Amazon is under no obligation, legal, fiscal, or moral, to sell anything.

But the precedent for this thinking extends back to the First Amendment and in 19th Century law. In 1866, long before the creation of antitrust law, Congress passed the Telegraph Act, which blocked a private company from gaining monopoly control of this very first electronic medium of communication.

Amazon is not a utility. Readers, authors, and publishers choose to deal with Amazon, and it is completely voluntary. Readers, authors, and publishers also can choose to deal with Amazon's many competitors. Amazon doesn't prevent that.

The courts have regularly found that existing antitrust laws can and should be used to protect information markets from private monopoly. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the 1994 Turner Broadcasting v. FCC case, articulated the reasoning. He wrote: "Assuring that the public has access to a multiplicity of information sources is a governmental purpose of the highest order, for it promotes values central to the First Amendment… The First Amendment's command that government not impede the freedom of speech does not disable the government from taking steps to ensure that private interests not restrict, through physical control of a critical pathway of communication, the free flow of information and ideas."

So, by selling more books than any other retailer, and allowing more books to be published than any other time in history, Amazon is somehow controlling information?

WTF?

As far as I know, other than certain types of pornography, Amazon sells practically every book ever written, with the exception of those authors and publishers who freely choose not to sell on Amazon.

Should those publishers and authors be forced to sell their books on Amazon, because Authors United apparently thinks Amazon controls the the free flow of information and ideas in the USA?

It's also worth noting that Amazon allows third-party sellers to sell books on its website, effectively competing with itself. So if Amazon ever did decide it didn't want to sell a certain book, third party sellers could still sell it on Amazon.

For example, if Amazon hadn't reached a contractual agreement with Hachette and stopped selling Hachette titles, third parties could still sell Hachette books on Amazon. This makes it impossible for Amazon to block anything.

Americans are just as opposed as ever to seeing private interests gain control of any marketplace of information. In February this year, the FCC, responding to the strong consensus view of the American people, ruled that no private interest should be allowed to manipulate the flow of information across the Internet, and established rules for "net neutrality."

This example actually made me chuckle. So Authors United supports the idea that there should be no government regulation of the Internet, yet it is demanding government regulation of Amazon.

Really? They don't see the irony there?

Only a few months ago, your Division was reportedly among the regulators who opposed excessive consolidation of ownership in broadband Internet, which halted the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. As recently as 1999, the FTC made clear that such principles also apply specifically to the book business, and blocked the purchase of Ingram Book Group, the country's largest wholesale book distributor, by Barnes & Noble, the country's largest retail bookstore.

This is United Authors making good on their confession that they aren't anti-trust experts. Neither am I, but I do know that monopolies per se don't violate US anti-trust law. If monopolies use their power to, say, raise prices (like the publishing cartel did), that violates the law. Or if a company attains a monopoly by merging with competitors, as in the above referenced instances, that also violates the law.

Don't any of the geniuses at Authors United know how to use Wikipedia? Perhaps it's good that they don't, because they might call upon you to break up Wikipedia for controlling information and ideas...

For two centuries, America's book business was the freest, fairest, and most competitive in the world. More than a business, it was a marketplace of ideas, with publishers acting as venture capitalists, advancing funds to give authors the freedom to write books, and thereby hoping to make a profit. In this way the profit motive was put in service of a vital national interest and our fundamental rights. 

And now, thanks to new technologies such as ebooks, retailers such as Amazon, and readers having more choices than ever before, publishers just aren't needed.

But rather than try to innovate and compete, publishers and their lapdogs in Authors United want government intervention to suppress progress and freedom.

Thanks to Amazon and its many competitors, writers no longer need venture capitalists to invest in them. Anyone can publish a book, for free. If a writer needs venture capital, they can raise it via Kickstarter or Indiegogo. And best of all, writers can now keep their rights, and they get the lion's share of the profits.

This doesn't sit well with the minority of Richie Rich bestsellers who made millions through the old system. So now they are wasting your time by shouting "monopoly!"

"The best test of truth," Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in 1919, "is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." What Americans seek, Holmes said, is "free trade in ideas."

Amazon is one of the major reasons we finally have a free trade in ideas.

Over the years, Amazon has benefitted (sic) readers and authors in many ways. But no temporary price cut can compensate for the costs to free expression and the health of America's book industry that have resulted from Amazon's abuse of its dominance in the world of books. Accordingly, we respectfully request that the Antitrust Division investigate Amazon's power over the book market, and the ways in which that corporation exercises its power, bearing in mind the very special constitutional sensitivities that have historically been applied to any business that has established effective control of a medium of communication.

I humbly request the Antitrust Division look at the publishing industry, and the practices they used to control the book business for decades. You'd be surprised how badly authors have been exploited, prior to Amazon's entrance into the marketplace.

I know Authors United also wrote a longer, stupider letter. If you're interested, I took that letter apart piece by piece here:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2015/07/authors-united-epic-fail-o-rama.html

It is also my understanding that the Association of Authors Representatives, and the Authors Guild, sent letters to you, backing Authors United. It's worth noting that one of the reasons authors have been so exploited by the publishing industry is that we have no advocates or organizations to help us. The AAR and Authors Guild have repeatedly sided with publishers over authors on many important issues.

If you'd like to learn more about how Amazon has benefited authors and readers, and how these organizations have harmed authors and readers, I've written extensively on this subject. You might find the following posts of mine interesting or helpful. I apologize that there are so many; there has been a great deal of hate directed toward Amazon over the last few years by the media, and by several of the rich authors behind Authors United.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/05/unconscionability.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/05/exploited-writers-in-unfair-industry.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/05/aar-fail.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-publishers-guild-strikes-again.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/08/for-authors-guild-other-legacy.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/12/konrath-and-eisler-vs-richard-russo-and.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/04/scott-turow-and-politics-of-cowardice.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/07/must-stop-stupid.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/07/konrath-and-eisler-vs-richard-russo.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/03/barry-joe-scott-turow.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/03/presumed-inane.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/07/so-real-authors-guild-is-amazon.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/05/joes-letter-to-doj.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/05/fisking-lilith-saintcrow-and.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/05/fisking-charlie-stross-more-on.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/11/amazonhachette-negotiations-finally-end.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/07/amazon-hachette-sounds-of-silence-guest.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/10/is-nyt-coverage-of-amazon-vs-hachette.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/08/amazon-vs-hachette.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/07/amazons-latest-proposal.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-hachette-job.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/10/guest-post-by-barry-eisler.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/07/authors-behaving-badly-and-authors-who.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/07/douglas-prestons-blood-money.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/09/nonsense-united.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/05/amazon-speaks.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/10/agents-behaving-badly.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/08/william-ockham-fisking-michael-pietsch.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/06/i-understand-and-sympathize.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/10/fisking-salon-and-rob-spillman.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/12/konrath-and-eisler-vs-richard-russo-and.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2015/07/fisking-douglas-preston.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2015/07/more-authors-guild-nonsense.html
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2015/07/douglas-prestons-fail-thon-continues.html

But hopefully you'll find no need to wade through thousands of words I've written just to reach the inevitable conclusion that: Amazon isn't a monopoly, Amazon is beneficial, the real harm has been done by the publishing cartel, and now a bunch of rich whiners are about to be disintermediated, so they're wasting your time with this silly Hail Mary pass.

Again, I apologize for my peers. I know you have better things to do. But unlike Authors United, I actually do care about my fellow authors. It is worth noting that I am not employed by Amazon, nor does Amazon know I'm writing this letter. I do offer my self-published books on Amazon.com, and Amazon has published several of my books. I've also been published by many other big publishers. I don't speak for Amazon in any way, shape, or form. I'm also openly critical of Amazon, and have publicly chastised them for doing stupid things the same way I've chastised Authors United and their ilk.

Thank you for your patience, and feel free to reach out to me if you would like any more information or clarification.

86 comments:

Joe Konrath said...

If anyone wants to add anything, or sees any mistakes, please point them out. Thanks!

Sabrina Chase said...

It is missing the link to where we can sign it :-)

Joe Konrath said...

Sabrina, I'm not sure it needs to be signed by more than me. I was tossing around an idea with some peers of doing an online petition, but I don't see how refuting bullshit needs people to support it. Authors United is wrong because they presented an poor argument, not because a lot of folks disagree with them.

Peter Spenser said...

Nope. It's good. Let's see what happens.

William Ockham said...

Did you actually send this? Because if you did, you just made the day of the intern responsible for dealing random mail. And yes, that is what happens with stuff like this.

Sabrina Chase said...

I appreciate your point, Joe .. and also know the logistics would be daunting. But part of the unspoken argument in these letters is "look how many people are being hurt". AG et al. claim their list of authors is being hurt by Amazon. The counter-argument is the list of indies that are being helped by Amazon and have, in some cases, also been hurt by the legacy publishers.

In any case, thank you for writing the letter and all of the posts prior on the subject. I suspect this DOJ penpal initiative is mostly for PR purposes vs. actual legal proceedings, and what you are doing is definitely an appropriate response. Someone somewhere may read this and experience an epiphany.

John Hindmarsh said...

I hope you sent it. Possibly by Fedex...

Anonymous said...

You misspelled kickstarter. Other than that, awesome.

tonyl said...

Two minor nits on a wonderful piece:
In this paragraph: "Amazon hasn't damaged the career of any author. They don't have the power to. They've certainly never targeted authors, or retaliated against authors who have spoken against them. Look at all of the United Authors signatories; all of them have books for sale on Amazon.”
you’ve used “United Authors” rather than Authors United.
And the automobile industry plasters a MSRP on every car it produces. But, a car is a product, whereas a book is… I don’t know, a product, too?

Thanks for taking the bulls**t by the horns. If you decide to allow others to sign, I’d be honored.

Deb Salisbury said...

A wonderful letter! I'd happily sign it, if you'd wanted a group, and I'm not a joiner.

Hmm. I suggest you don't do the old-fashioned thing and FedEx it. Surely the DOJ is modern enough for email! ;-)

Nirmala said...

From the AU letter: "With its own traditional imprints and its near-total control of self-publishing, Amazon has also become the largest publisher and distributor of new books in the world."

I think you could point out here that Amazon does not control, distribute or publish self-published books. By definition, a self-published book is published and distributed by the author and Amazon functions only as a retailer. To claim that somehow the fact that many authors, acting as their own publisher and distributor, choose to sell their books on Amazon makes Amazon the "largest publisher and distributor of new books in the world" is patently false and misleading. Amazon does publish books but its own imprints are a very small factor in the world of publishing, in part because most other retailers boycott their books.

Also a typo: you say, "Which it great, in my opinion."

One more thing: where you say, "I'm going to pull this number out of my ass, but my best guess is that out of every 1000 books written, only 1 was published. That meant 999 out of 1000 books were effectively deep-sixed, prevented from ever reaching the public" you might want to clarify that instead of every 1000 books written, you are referring to "every 1000 book manuscripts submitted to publishers and/or their agents" Obviously, anyone could still self-publish a book at any time in the past, but they could not get the book before many readers without it being accepted by a publisher. Also, you might want to leave out the part about pulling the number out of your ass and just say "My best guess is..." The part about pulling the number out of your ass weakens the argument and is not necessary to make the point, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I miss the days when this blog was more positive about indie publishing and less of a strident diatribe against...whatever. I'd like to see Joe take a long break from fisking.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Greg. *wave*

Elise M Stone said...

In the next to the last paragraph, you say:

I've also been publishing by many other big publishers.

Publishing should be "published."

Petrea Burchard said...

Joe, please don't take this the wrong way, but I love you.

Thanks for saying everything so well. If you need signers, I'm in.

Chris Chater said...

In the paragraph starting " amazon is not a monopoly." You say smashwords twice in the list.

Awesome blog! Keep on kicking ass.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you folks are determined to do an online petition, you could go to:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/

Maybe ask that AG funding be investigated or that "Industry standard" contracts be investigated by the FTC. Or, better, rail about big publishing control by foreign companies. That might draw in signatures from outside the publishing world and get the boys in France and Germany scared enough to tell Preston to stop asking for government involvement. That never ends well for anybody.

If nothing else, just putting the thing out there might force the tradpub apologist FUDers to think twice. And it'll be cheaper than TP-ing Preston's writing shack. :D

Seriously: good job, Mr Konrath. And thanks for taking on the stupid so we don't have to.


daneyul said...

>>but I don't see how refuting bullshit needs people to support it. Authors United is wrong because they presented an poor argument, not because a lot of folks disagree with them.

But your argument gets attention with numbers attached to it. They've played that game too, citing all the authors that signed their previous letters, and the best counter to get people to take the other side seriously was the ability to cite bigger numbers agreeing with it. A single letter, no matter how well argued, can be dismissed as a crank and not read. One signed by thousands, not so much.

Joseph Ratliff said...

Thank you Joe, for writing this up.

But I do also agree with the "getting attention with numbers attached to it" premise that daneyul brought up. I'll sign any letter like this (that you've written of course).

Jennifer Oberth said...

I also agree about the number of people backing these points. Yes, pointing out the flaws of an argument should be good enough, but people are human. If debating were done by robots, we wouldn't need a court of law. Both lawyers in a case can sound 100% correct. I'd hope the person reading your letter wouldn't think you have an axe to grind and dismiss it. (And don't say it can't happen - if everyone was smart and fair, you'd never have anything to fisk.) Signatures would add weight.

Play fire with fire - good, strong, accurate, "duh!" points plus a lot of backing in the form of signatures. That might even help them dismiss the AU letter.

I also agree about ditching the pulling the number from your behind. It does weaken the example just a tad.

I really like how you show WHY the AU wrote this letter. That's perfect.

Jennifer Oberth said...

By "this letter" I, of course, mean "their letter"

David L. Shutter said...

Beautiful letter. We can only hope Preston gets a public reply overridden with lawyer-class snark, as was the case with the last letter sent to the DOJ over Amazon.

But I didn't see any mention of the practice whereby Amazon pays publishers their asking list price and when discounting, absorbs the loss themselves. Preston and Snowflakes United will surely never mention it but I think that's one of the larger indicators of their hypocrisy.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

*Applause*

Joe Konrath said...

Keep the comments coming. I've fixed the typos pointed out.

Did you actually send this?

I'll send it this week, after getting a bit more feedback from commentors here.

And the automobile industry plasters a MSRP on every car it produces

They do, but not permanently, though. And there is still negotiation wiggle room, because it's a recommended price. Imagine what it would be like if no car ever sold for less than MSRP. Also imagine if cars were all priced exactly the same, and didn't compete on price.

The part about pulling the number out of your ass weakens the argument and is not necessary to make the point, IMHO.

Agreed.

I miss the days when this blog was more positive about indie publishing and less of a strident diatribe against...whatever.

If our government takes this BS seriously and breaks up Amazon, how will that be positive for indie publishing?

Sometimes you cheer. Sometimes you fight.

Well, if you folks are determined to do an online petition, you could go to:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/


I see the point of signatures. A petition would also maybe get some media attention.

But that would take effort, and time, and frankly I'm getting burned out dealing with all the stupid. I want to get back to writing, dammit!

Maybe ask that AG funding be investigated or that "Industry standard" contracts be investigated by the FTC. Or, better, rail about big publishing control by foreign companies. That might draw in signatures from outside the publishing world and get the boys in France and Germany scared enough to tell Preston to stop asking for government involvement. That never ends well for anybody.

Good points.

BRYAN HIGBY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BRYAN HIGBY said...

Not sure why bone head millionaires have to be such bone heads. Oh yeah, greed! Fear of change! Extinction! Great Blog Joe!

BRYAN HIGBY said...

Any new books on the horizon Joe?

Jennifer Oberth said...

Bryan - don't ask him that when he's doing this awesome work that's non-Konrath-book related! (Seriously, who else is will do all this, and as well as Joe does?)

BRYAN HIGBY said...

I know what you're saying Jennifer but I love Joe's books and let's face it we as writers create and I know Joe loves to create too. I've read all your stuff now Joe. Looking for more. Best!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm going to bring up the dreaded "tone" word. Here on your blog I totally get why you use the tone you do. I find it refreshing and fun.

In this case, perhaps starting out a bit less rough would be smart. I would hate for the letter to get binned before you get into your very important points.

I'm only suggesting changes to the first few lines where you say "Bullshit Letters" and "whiny entitled little babies."

Once you have established that you have a LOT of information and can back up your points, then the tone feels right on point.

Jennifer Oberth said...

I know Bryan and I agree. I was just teasing. Of course Joe should follow his first love. As a writer myself, I know that blog writing (and these letters and such) simply don't count as part of that love, it's not fulfilling in that way. It just doesn't "hit the spot."

But this kind of non-fiction writing is super important and so appreciated.

BRYAN HIGBY said...

Agreed!

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

Rather doubtful that either letter is going to get a serious read from the AG, if the AG even looks at it. Here's a quote from Baer arising from the Apple conspiracy case-"US Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer called the ruling "a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically". In the context of the Apple case, that sounded pretty pro amazon. Also, while I love your style, in the event you really intend to send a letter to the AG, you might want to make the language more formal, and eliminate such words as "bullshit" because that sort of thing reduces the credibility of even the most factually accurate missives. Sorry, but that's just the lawyer in me. In dealing with judges and politicos over a thirty four year period, I have found that formally presented facts and arguments will get you much more of a serious read than a letter spiced with what some straight laced political appointee might misdiagnose as coprolalia.

Nirmala said...

The rest of the media is starting to join the bandwagon:

https://news.google.com/news/story?ncl=dt2LOLnjhvj2_EMP_PPUzoDtOR-xM&q=authors+united&lr=English&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCMQqgIwAGoVChMIjpa5tY7qxgIVESmICh22yQeB

and also:

https://news.google.com/news/story?ncl=deX2Iwo3MJJlYaMAMVDUGvJSWthtM&q=authors+united&lr=English&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCkQqgIwAWoVChMIjpa5tY7qxgIVESmICh22yQeB

Amazing to me how little critical analysis or in depth reporting actually happens when one of these stories goes viral.

Patricia Lynne said...

I agree with Anon 10:50. You want the most professional tone possible, and while I enjoy the snark that's there, it might hurt how seriously you are taken. They might just assume you have a personal vendetta and not a real concern. I really like the bit at the end where you give full disclosure. I wonder if AU did that. I also wonder if you should add some of your traditional publishing history to show that you have knowledge of contracts and the clauses and aren't just assuming traditional contracts are one sided. You have real reason behind this letter through your personal history with the book world.

I'd also sign too. (Not that my sig would have any weight. I'm a small fry, but I also know I would have been in the 999 because I don't write in neat little boxes and that makes marketing hard.)

But that would take effort, and time, and frankly I'm getting burned out dealing with all the stupid. I want to get back to writing, dammit!

I could tell when your last fisk. Your tone was "Not another one! Please stop teh stoopid! I'm tired of it!"

Nirmala said...

I have to say that I agree with those who are suggesting that you tone down the language in order to be taken seriously. It is one thing to use your snark and rough language in order to get attention here on your blog, but if you really want someone at the Attorney General's office to consider your letter thoroughly, why put potential and unnecessary hurdles to that outcome in the letter.

Alan Spade said...

I agree about the tone critics by w. adam and the others, although it's worth noticing that the words used are deliberately provocative, and that's one of the reasons Joe's blog attracts so many readers.

I can understand Joe's choice. His voice is his voice.

"Now, thanks to companies like Amazon, publishers are nothing more than a very expensive value-added service." So true.

I've heard big publishing sales have decreased lately. It will be interesting to see if that trend will continue or if it's only part of a cycle.

Publishing is a very peculiar business where one big company can thrive just with one mega bestseller like 50 Shades of Grey.

Will future mega bestsellers sell 50% of ebooks and 50% of paper books like 50 Shades (correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the figures were 50 millions ebooks sold and the same for paper books)?

Because, if the ebook share rises over 50%, it will not be a good sign for big publishing, which make most of its profit over paper. Especially if you take into account the fact that those mega bestsellers belong to the genres now dominated by self-published authors...

Andy L said...

Great piece. Quick typo tweak:

Amazon offers readers more choices, not less

should be:

Amazon offers readers more choices, not fewer

or:

Amazon offers readers more choice, not less

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks for the additional feedback.

I was thinking a lot about tone when I wrote this, because I'm deliberate with tone on my blog.

I'm going to keep it as is. Here's why.

1. The Attorney General gets letters all the time. None have the tone I convey here. Being amusing and rude might turn them off, but it also might get some attention it otherwise wouldn't. Tone is one of the reasons my blog gets hits.

2. If I went all formal, and any of the links I listed were followed, the abrupt tonal change would be like filthy hippies crashing a black tie party.

3. Authors United doesn't deserve a dignified response. Period. The deserve derision, ridicule, mockery, and contempt. But I think I will add a bit about respect, and perhaps a little more introduction.

Elisabeth Zguta said...

Clapping - great letter

Joe Konrath said...

New opening:

My name is Joe Konrath, and I'm a professional fiction writer of more than forty books.

I'd like to apologize for the group who call themselves Authors United, who recently sent you a letter pleading for you to investigate Amazon.

To be blunt, Authors United are a bunch of whiny little babies with overblown senses of entitlement, and they deserve derision, ridicule, mockery, and contempt, and my tone in this letter of response will reflect that. They're wasting your time with their nonsense, and they only speak for a tiny fraction of professional writers. I'm truly sorry you have to deal with them.

Anonymous said...

Great updates Joe. Thanks for letting us all participate in this. United Authors :)

BRYAN HIGBY said...

I might have said whining b*tches, but that's just me. LOL!

Jennifer Oberth said...

Personally, I do like your tone. When I read it, I was picturing the worker who opens the mail and how this would brighten their day - that job is boring.

Also, you're not exactly asking for anything - you're helping the DOJ dismiss another letter, thus saving them a lot of time, and in such a way that might make them chuckle.

I do like the new opening, too, warning them that this is going to be the tone of the letter, so be prepared. Then your usual no holds barred.

The only thing I don't like, though, is the apologizing for the AU letter. It comes across to me like you had something to do with it, and have now changed your mind. Not sure if that's just me, though. You know how everyone will read the exact same thing a little differently.

(And I love the hippie/black tie party analogy!)

Christina E. Pilz said...

I'd sign your letter in a heartbeat, Joe. Just let me know.

Angry_Games said...

The only thing I would add is maybe find some way to allow other authors to sign on to this letter (remember the 7k+ who signed the last petition compared to the paltry number of "trad" authors on the opposing side?).

I like the tone.

The reality (in my opinion) is that the DoJ won't ever investigate Amazon for any of the claims AU made against it, because the DoJ understands how the law works, and they know Amazon isn't in violation of it. More importantly, the Big5 + Apple tried to make their case be about Amazon, and it backfired to the tune of a guilty verdict and a 130+ page decision by the judge which has yet to be overturned.

This is okay because what this letter really does (hopefully) is to get as much of "our" voice out to idiots in the media as these chumps from AU or AG or whatever nonsensical "authors" groups keep crying to the media about how Amazon is evil/monopoly/fetus-stealing demon banshees. Which is the real fight... a few authors who hate Amazon vs the majority of authors who thank their favorite deity Amazon exists so they can make a living (not to mention readers, who typically don't give two fecal droppings about this battle as long as they have books to read.

Alan Spade said...

The apologizing thing just adds a little more provocation. It's fine for me.

James F. Brown said...

Joe,

AU's gonna hate you more than they already do. Hope you're OK with that! ;)

P.S. Thanks for doing all this, both the letter and the fisking. I would have gone crazy trying to fisk all that AU crapola. And my fingers would have been worn down to stubs on the keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for continuing to fight the good fight, Joe. I make about 3 grand a year on my books. I couldn't even get read by an agent or publisher prior to Amazon's open door, and now I am a part of the 'free and open exchange of ideas'.

I'm Chuck Austen and I am the counter-argument.

Small typo:

"Or if a company attains a monopoly by merging with competitors, as in the above references instances, that also violates the law."

I think you mean: "referenced instances".

Best,

Chuck (signed in as anonymous because I'm not at home).

T. M. Bilderback said...

Bravo!

Nirmala said...

Maybe just change the word "bullshit" to "worthless" in the first line of "Dear Whomever..." so that at least the person reading it does not get triggered and possibly bail on the letter before it even gets going :)

Once they get into the body of the letter, they should quickly realize it is worth their while...

Joe Konrath said...

Agreed. Worthless is better.

John Ellsworth said...

I think your key point is that the disenfranchised 999 have become franchised thanks to Amazon. That the trads silence the majority voice and favor the minority based purely on financial values, not literary ones, while Amazon favors all voices, large and small and silences no one--a truly democratic marketplace where readers can select the voices they enjoy and vote with their dollars.

Anonymous said...

I think you should let whomever wants to-- sign this letter Joe.

The more names the better.

tho re DOJ [anti-trust div] they will follow the law already in place, for any final decision in investigating [if so], in the end.

Also there are powerful corp interests [many] already poised to 'sacrifice' much money which is, I"m afraid, far more powerful than words and opinions without massive amounts of money contributed by the one[s] with the words and opinions.

Unfortunately every day we see legal awards, laws and outcomes of elections influenced by those who are willing to lead by putting their own money behind what they personally believe ... or fundraise humongous amounts based on big wealthy donors in the main,[ with many preferably millions of small donors too.] However the huge donors who contribute million[s] have to be present to the cause, for they form a powerful lobby. Money talks, I'm afraid. And bs walks away.

One of the things that AU has brought up in contacting 'top cop dept' of usa, in addition to raising an issue that they surely anticipated would cause people to 'take sides' but AU knows they likely can count on the massively powerful competitors of amazon, [to directly or indirectly side with them] --for the big corps and multinationals would love to rush, overwhelm, take [back] a huge portion of amazon's business. This will not be just AU. Not even close

Then there will be the amicus briefs and other legal minds who will weigh in to further attempt to lobby the situ somewhere along the line.

I think it's a good letter, just a .02, I think you should keep word 'bulls---' in. The rest of the letter's wording fits that trope.

Also, just a thought, you might think of saving this letter til the top cop a.t. dept has decided whether to investigate or not, and not use all your fire now. I doubt an investigation would hurt amazon in any way, and in fact, when top cop dept doesnt find any 'findings', then amazon can point to that fact ad infinitum with their angel wings flapping.

Do whatever you think best.



Donna White Glaser said...

Love this! Love you!!

Joe Konrath said...

Great post here: http://observer.com/2015/07/with-lower-prices-and-12x-more-titles-per-year-famous-authors-fear-amazon/

Nat Russo said...

I love the new opening (and the letter overall), Joe. Keep fighting the good fight!

Walter Knight said...

The Obama administration and the DOJ does not care if handful of big publishers in New York have functioned as a cartel, as long as they control that cartel with their politically correct thought police. You're a liberal, you know that, except finally their need to control affects you, too.

Smart Debut Author said...

Assclowns Entitled and their joke of a letter gives us a preview of how Big Publishing's world is ending... not wth a bang, or even a whimper, but with a petulant whine.

That everyone from readers to the DOJ will ignore. :D

David L. Shutter said...

Great, balanced article over at the Observer. I'll repeat what someone at TPV just asked regarding Hatchette vs. Zon: what books did they actually de-list and completely stop selling? It appears to be accepted by some as common knowledge that they did, as the Observer article mentions. I recall it was merely a dropping of pre-order buttons and not stockpiling print books; some common sense logistical steps given the contractual issues.

Matt said...

@ David L. Shutter
Amazon simply replaced the pre-order buttons with "Buy when available" buttons. Readers could still effectively pre-order Hachette books. And with the print book warehousing a few authors confronted Hachette about this and ended up concluding it was Hacehette that was the problem. I believe Michael J Sullivan was one of those authors.

David L. Shutter said...

@Matt

ok, is what I figured. I was on a Navy ship with intermittent and non-existent internet so I missed a lot of Zon VS. Hatchette last year. It bears repeating so people don't walk away the perception that Zon did in fact de-list books. Nope. Just Hatchette being ass-hats and using their own writers as negotiation fodder.

Expounding on that issue would have been another good question for Preston at #Litchat last night. If he had shown up.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, replacing the buttons did have an negative impact on sales for those titles, so Amazon was flexing its muscles a bit.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe, I think Amazon has been great and amazing for indie writers, but it bothers me when they use their market position to discourage writers from publishing on venues other than Amazon. Smashwords has also been a great platform, but they can't compete with Amazon if Amazon dangles incentives for going exclusive. How do you feel about this? It really seems better if writers can distribute to multiple platforms without penalty, but Amazon wants to penalize for not going exclusive. That's all fair and good, but wouldn't it be better if Amazon didn't demand exclusivity? Your thoughts please?

G. B. Miller said...

My, my, my. I can see that the other side really does enjoy getting their collective panties (or underwear) in a tight bunch over Amazon.

As you say, Amazon uses books (and probably music to a smaller degree) as a loss leader. A plethora of retailers do the exact same thing on a daily basis, using products that people love (i.e. coffee) as a loss leader in order to bring them in to perhaps buy something else that is slightly more expensive.

If I remember my business history correctly, with a few exceptions (Standard Oil & AT&T), retailers can't be monopolies. Producers of product can.

Father Nature's Corner

Nat Russo said...

Anonymous 10:12 said: "Smashwords has also been a great platform, but they can't compete with Amazon if Amazon dangles incentives for going exclusive."

I think the solution is simple. Smashwords can easily compete by offering exclusivity benefits of their own. Amazon isn't stopping them from doing this. That level of competition can only benefit authors, not harm us.

Alan Spade said...

@Nat: I'm not Anonymous 10:12. I always own my name on my comments.

Benefit authors, yes, but readers? Imagine, if we had 10 retailers and sellers of ebook reading devices that owned each one tenth of the market, with one tenth of the ebooks exclusives for each.

And each with their own proprietary format.

It would not be user-friendly in any way. In my mind, it would rather resemble a trench war.

Of course, I would agree that this trench war is already occuring with Amazon's competition, because of the DRM. For example, Apple already reformats epub so that you cannot read an epub reformated by Apple (after you have published it on Apple) on other devices.

The SF Reader has touched that very subject with his post, in French, Interopérabilité des livres électroniques: http://readingandraytracing.blogspot.fr/2015/03/interoperabilite.html

So before blaming Amazon's proprietary format, its competitors should have a good look on the mirror.

But if you add exclusivity to the already existing DRM for each retailer, the act of reading electronically, which should be in my opinion universal, becomes very messy. Not a good example.

Nat Russo said...

Alan: If I could post a screenshot, I would. Just scroll up. You didn't log in or something. You're listed as "anonymous".

Alan Spade said...

Not on my screen, Nat. Like you, I'm logged through Google+.

Besides, how can you call me Alan if I'm anonymous? How can you know it was me? Scratching my head...

Joe Konrath said...

Smashwords has also been a great platform, but they can't compete with Amazon if Amazon dangles incentives for going exclusive.

I don't like the exclusivity of KDP Select, and I've told this to Amazon since its inception. If the DOJ centers in on anything that Amazon is doing that could be construed as anti-trust, this is what they'll target. And I wouldn't mind seeing that exclusivity rule dropped.

That said, re-read what you posted. Amazon is using incentives. It doesn't have to. It could easily require all KDP books to be exclusive to Amazon, rather than making Select an opt-in.

Amazon tempting authors with incentives is a good thing. It beats Amazon not giving authors a choice.

The DOJ would have a tough job proving that incentives are anti-competitive.

Ultimately, I think Amazon will drop exclusivity. I also think they'll drop proprietary format. I predict being able to read epub on Kindles.

But then, I've been predicting that since 2009, and have so far been wrong...

Joe Konrath said...

the act of reading electronically, which should be in my opinion universal, becomes very messy.

I agree it becomes messy, but proprietary format has existed as long as media has.

Edison's tubes competed with RCA's discs.

78s competed with 45s competed with 33s competed with reel to reel competed with 8 track comepeted with cassette competed with CD competed with DAT competed to mp3 competed with m4a, ogg vorbis, wav, flac, etc...

8mnm film gave way super 8 and to Beta and VHS and Super VHS and Compact VHS and 8mm videotape and VCD and DVD and HDVD and Blu-Ray and a zillion digital formats like gif, mpeg4, wpv, mov, avi, mts, etc.

Stone carvings led to scrolls and books and then a dozen digital print formats https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats

In some cases, it's about owning the format, which gives readers access to your content, exclusive or otherwise. But these proprietary formats never last. Not because of equal competition. But because a superior format always replaces them.

Ebooks will evolve. And evolution points to open source, because books and the Internet are closely linked. Amazon either has to allow other formats to be read on its devices, or give up the hardware biz.

Nat Russo said...

Alan, I really don't want to belabor this. I've taken a screenshot and highlighted the appropriate bits. No conspiracy here.

http://img [dot] photobucket [dot] com/albums/v398/Mujahid/Forum%20Pics/Anonymous.jpg

Alan Spade said...

Nat, I just stated that I wasn't anonymous 10:12 to make clear that even if I agree with what he said, I'm not him. It appears I shouldn't have.

Alan Spade said...

"Ebooks will evolve. And evolution points to open source, because books and the Internet are closely linked. Amazon either has to allow other formats to be read on its devices, or give up the hardware biz."

I hope you are right, Joe. As I said, it's more the exclusivity thing that worries me (and I agree this is what the DOJ will target if they go against Amazon, which for the moment is highly unlikely, IMO).

The combination of the exclusivity and the proprietary format is not good for Amazon's image, but as I said, Amazon .mobi and .azw format is not really an issue as long as its competitors also try to tie their readers to their hardware by reformating and with DRM.

David L. Shutter said...

"Amazon either has to allow other formats to be read on its devices, or give up the hardware biz."

But with Zon as the number one book seller with the most widely used reader/app, doesn't it seem more likely that they'll win (if they haven't already, besides the yelling) and their format will become the next CD of e-reading?

And if not, then their format "loss" and re-adoption becomes a software issue. And software formats aren't entirely like the physical media formats of the past. There are varying degrees of physical functionality and production cost associated there. Not nearly so with software. Amazon could address that, maybe not easily or cheaply, but they could. Giving up on all their hardware development? Seems unlikely and very unnecessary no matter what format becomes most dominant.

AnonymousWriter said...

JAK - you sound like a jackass in that letter and the rest of the comments prove exactly why a great book has never been written by a committee.

It's starting to get very boring reading all your rants against the publishers....we get it...WE GET IT....lets see more about the craft.

No more fools writing books on your behalf and you diminishing your brand...lets see posts about writing and publishing and not just plugs for other peoples books and their embarrassing JAK worship.

JAK - I'm your best friend here. The real friends are those that tell you how it is.

Go out and write great books and sell millions. That's how you help most.

Author S. D. Skye said...

And a hearty amen to this.

Joe Konrath said...

WE GET IT

And why do you get it?

When the average reader picks up the NYT and sees Douglas Preston is calling on the DOJ to break up Amazon as a monopoly, does that reader get it?

This is A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Not A Newbie's Guide to Craft. If you don't know your craft already, you shouldn't be publishing.

BTW, my real friends aren't anonymous. Ever.

David Lang said...

@David L Shutter

the thing about e-books is that the data they are providing is rather simple, so if you don't have DRM in the way you can do a lossless conversion from one format to another.

If you have DRM in the way, then it doesn't matter, you are stuck when the DRM decides to not let you have access to the work anymore (account gets closed, device breaks, whatever the DRM is tied to)

So if you claim to care about formats, you should be far more worried about DRM.

Anonymous said...

Time for someone to switch to decaf.

Joe Konrath said...

Time for someone to switch to decaf.

Time for someone to take some caffeine. Maybe that will give you the courage you need to post a comment using your name.

Coward.

Joe Konrath said...

So if you claim to care about formats, you should be far more worried about DRM.

True, David. But remember that DRM is the publisher's choice. Format is the retailer's choice.

I find it mildly irritating that my Kindles can't read epub. But it's very irritating to buy an ebook with DRM that you have to jump through hoops to strip.

David Lang said...

I'd love to see the DOJ/FTC get involved and mandate that all e-bookstores document their formats and provide open APIs for competing e-readers (and e-reader software) to buy/download books.

The fun thing would be the DRM and the question of how to trust this 'unknown' software. But even if it only reliably worked for non-DRM titles, it would still be a win for the public.

This is a case where Amazon is not any worse than anyone else, they are just the most obvious target.

Nick Marsden said...

Because a professional attorney like the Attorney General will appreciate the snark, rudeness, and crass language.

I guarantee that the first person who reads this in the AG's office will chuck it the first time they see the word "bullshit" or "jackass" or any number of demeaning terms you've used in this letter. The AG will never see it.

Anonymous said...

Does it change any facet of your argument now that Amazon imprints are requiring giving up rights for the length of copyright in exchange for a bit better percentage than the big pubs?

Joe Konrath said...

Just mailed it out. Priority, not FedEx. :)