I guess that would make them snowballs?
This group of authors should stick to writing. Where they can edit. And they don’t have to speak live. Especially about things of which they know less than nothing (that’s where what you think you know is gobsmacking-bonkers-wrong).
Roxana Robinson is president of the Authors’ Guild and a vocal supporter of Authors United, which is continuing their appeal to unreason. Here, she is absolutely crushed by Paul Kedrosky, who does an admirable job of not cracking up on camera.
The argument being made by Authors United is that books are not products and are therefore not subject to distribution agreements. The fact that Hachette does not want to negotiate with Amazon is not their concern. The fact that Amazon and Hachette do not have a long-term distribution agreement is not their concern. They claim not to be taking sides, but they have yet to appeal to Hachette to negotiate in good faith. Instead, they call on Amazon, a retailer, to capitulate to whatever demands Hachette, a multinational conglomerate, is making.
Their most recent letter is being sent to Amazon’s board members, whom I assume know a thing or two about business and will get a laugh out of this nonsense. In fact, the letter was so offensive, that Authors United had to go back and edit it (which made it more offensive). Books written in China by Chinese authors are denigrated in the original; in the new version, all non-US authors are deemed to be inferior.
During the interview posted above, Roxana says a few contradictory things that should raise eyebrows. Somehow, Amazon is hurting Hachette authors with lower sales, but at the same time Amazon’s customers are revolting and simply buying these books elsewhere. So are sales down or are they the same? In the Authors United letter, Douglas Preston writes that sales are down and that these lost sales are not being made up elsewhere. And Amazon’s reputation with its customers has indeed moved; it’s gone up.
But why deal with facts? These are special people who do something that can’t be outsourced (ignoring the dearth of foreign literature translated into English) and can’t be done cheaper (ignoring the fact that publishers aren’t putting the same resources into acquiring, editing, designing, and releasing books). Do they really take themselves this seriously?
The fact is that they wrote a book meant to entertain or educate. And then, instead of controlling that work of art or giving it away, they sold the rights to a company based in France, which will own those rights for the rest of their lives and the lives of their children. They sold out. They made a deal. They took a wad of cash, as if their art were no more than a crate of razors. They no longer have a say in where the books are sold or for how much.
While I’m sure practically everyone is sick of hearing about this standoff, I hope the bizarre PR campaign being waged by Hachette, the New York Times, the Authors Guild, and this handful of authors is unsuccessful. The aim here is the same as the collusion between the Big 6 and Apple, which was to jack up the prices of ebooks on customers.
Cheating didn’t work. Lying isn’t working. And suing isn’t going to do it either.
My advice to Hachette is to start competing. And my advice to authors is to stop selling your art like so many cheap, outsourced products, and then pretending like you still own it.