PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE ASJA ON 4/4/08 AT 6:12 P.M.
(Letter to members appears below release.)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Russell Wild, ASJA president, 610-530-0078
Salley Shannon, ASJA vice president, 301-740-2819
BIG, RICH AMAZON NOW GOUGING INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS -- AND WRITERS, MOST OF ALL
The American Society of Journalists and Authors, the nation's trade association for freelance nonfiction writers, is disgusted with Amazon's announced move requiring that all print-on-demand (POD) books sold on Amazon's site be printed by their own print-on-demand house, BookSurge.
As of April 1, Amazon is requiring small publishers to sign a contract agreeing to such demands.
At first, Amazon representatives denied they were threatening small booksellers with having the "buy it" buttons for their books turned off if they didn't sign on the dotted line. Later this week, Amazon admitted the move, as reported in Writer's Weekly and The Wall Street Journal. The contract being offered to print-on-demand publishers, which ASJA officers have seen, also includes a confidentiality clause forbidding disclosure of not just specific contract terms, as is typical, but any discussion at all. Thus, small publishers who have signed the contract may not say so, much less reveal the pressure they were under.
In addition, Amazon is punishing publishers who sell their books at a discount from cover price directly on their publisher's websites. It is taking that discounted price as the book's "cover price" and then applying their own discounts accordingly.
"We applauded when Jeff Bezos and Amazon gave small publishers and even writers who self-published a way to get their books before the public," observed ASJA President Russell Wild. "With these grabby, strong-arm tactics, Amazon negates all that -- and the years of goodwill it has built up with writers, who ultimately will bear the brunt of any price increases in the printing of independently published books."
ASJA joins PMA, the independent book publishers association, which also has spoken out against Amazon's move to forcibly get business for its own BookSurge subsidiary. The writer's group also will urge the Washington state attorney general's office to investigate whether Amazon's move constitutes restraint of trade or otherwise violates anti-trust laws.
ASJA MEMBER ALERT DISTRIBUTED AT 2:18 P.M. ON 04/04/08:
From: ASJA Member Announcements
Date: Apr 4, 2008 2:18 PM
Subject: ASJA ALERT: Amazon puts the squeeze on POD publishers, authors
Dear fellow members --
In the last few days, Amazon has confirmed that as of April 1, it is requiring on-demand authors and independent on-demand publishing houses to have their titles printed through Amazon's own on-demand facilities, Booksurge -- or they won't be sold on Amazon. The big red buy-it button will go away.
ASJA is investigating the situation and the possibility of joining any protest actions within the industry. We will keep you informed. In the meantime, we suggest you read the material on the links below and consider signing the two petitions, one of which asks the Washington State Attorney General's office to investigate this action in light of restraint-of-trade laws. (If you live in Washington state, please take particular note of
this.) The other petition basically tells Amazon "We noticed. We don't like it."
You may circulate this e-mail to non-member friends; in fact, the ASJA Board urges you to do so.
Salley Shannon, ASJA vice president and Advocacy Committee chairman
[Note: if you are interested in joining an ad-hoc committee on this
situation, please write me at VP - at - asja.com]
Wall Street Journal story:
Writer's Weekly page -- information clearinghouse:
http://www.writersweekly.com/the_latest ... 72008.html
Petition to stop Booksurge requirement:
Petition to the Washington State Attorney General:
http://www.amazontroopsurge.com/2008/04 ... legal.html