Authors Keeping An Eye On DOJ Lawsuits
The Department of Justice recently announced lawsuits against Apple and five major publishers, and when they did, it got everyone in the publishing industry’s eye.
“I’m in a bit of an awkward position because this has pitted my publisher against the retailer that far and away sells more of my books than any other,” says popular mystery author Michael Connelly. “I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, and both of these hands feed me.”
Connelly’s books are published under the Little, Brown imprint, which is under Hachette. Hachette is one of the publishers who has agreed to settle.
Apple denies colluding to raise the price of eBooks, but the accusation has lead to a greater shift in the balance of power to Amazon.
“I think the DOJ’s suit is misguided,” explains Andrew Wylie, one of the top publishing agents. “I think it is acting against the interests of culture and diversity in publishing. I think it is acting against the interests of authors.”
In part, that’s because the pricing of e-books directly affects the way authors can earn a living – and the publishing ecosystem that sustains them. “I know for a fact that my publishers and my editors publish books that they know are going to lose money but they think should be of the world,” says National Book Award-winning writer Sherman Alexie. “The John Grishams of the world support the experimental nature of publishing.” The DOJ’s suit, he says, “gave Amazon explicit permission to go for a total monopoly.”
Connelly believes the suit is unbalanced. “I believe in fair play. So I feel that if the government is going to step in and put controls on how publishers act to ensure a competitive marketplace, then I hope the government will be just as vigilant in guarding this amazing, creative and important industry from being monopolized by one entity,” he says. “Amazon spreads my work far and wide. You can’t beat that. I’m very grateful. But I don’t want a world where there are no bookstores or other venues for discovering my work or the work of any other writers.”
New writers are also affected by the suit. “I love writing and am going to continue writing, but having all my eggs in one basket is kind of scary,” says Elliott Holt, whose debut novel will be published by Penguin in 2013.