Hits Back In Battle With Authors Guild

Share this content: yesterday urged customers to e-mail the Authors Guild and tell the writers' trade group to stop campaigning against the online merchant's used book service. CEO Jeff Bezos sent an e-mail yesterday to "tens of thousands"of customers who have sold used books on the site defending the service, according to spokesman Bill Curry.

Bezos' e-mail was the latest shot in an ongoing battle with the Authors Guild over's selling used books on the same Web page at the same time as new releases. The letter was in response to an e-mail last week from the Authors Guild to about 5,000 of its 8,200 members calling on those who have Web sites to remove links to's affiliate program, and some resulting press coverage.

The Authors Guild contends's used book service damages the industry by cutting into new-book sales and, as a result, publisher profits and author royalties.

"[T]heir assertion that used books hurt the book industry and authors is not correct," Bezos said. "We've found that our used books business does not take business away from the sale of new books. In fact, the opposite has happened."

The service encourages people to try authors and genres they otherwise might not have tried, Bezos claimed.

"[W]hen 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," Bezos said.

Used merchandise, which includes books, CDs and electronics, accounted for 15 percent of's revenue in the fourth quarter of 2001, according to Curry. Under's used-book service, customers sell them to each other, and charges a 99-cent fee plus a percentage of the sale for each completed transaction.

Amazon began offering the used book service in November 2000. The guild and the Association of American Publishers sent Bezos a letter in December 2000 in protest.

"If your aggressive promotion of used book sales becomes popular among Amazon's customers, this service will cut significantly into sales of new titles, directly harming authors and publishers," the letter said.

The guild claims it is not demanding that Amazon stop selling used books. It is asking Amazon to sell used books on a separate section of the site.

Nonsense, Bezos said. "Why would any company that cares about customers bury or hide a service that customers find valuable?"

What's more, the used-book service is simply good business, he said.

"It makes out-of-print books available and other books more affordable. Making books affordable is a fundamental good (as are libraries). This is why we've worked so hard (with used booksellers like you) to offer customers a huge selection of used books-- and our customers have voted with their wallets that they find this service valuable."

Curry claimed that by mid-day yesterday, had been copied on more than 4,000 e-mails to the guild as a result of the effort.

A receptionist said Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken had left for the day and was unavailable for comment.

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

PAN Communications is an award-winning integrated marketing and public relations agency for B2B technology and healthcare brands. PAN's data-driven approach allows the firm to specialize in public relations, social media, content and influencer marketing, and data and analytics. PAN partners with brands to create unique, integrated campaigns that captivate audiences.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above