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Authors will fire back at Amazon with calls for a government investigation

Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
September 29, 2014
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If you've been following the protracted war between Amazon and Hachette, you know that Amazon's been stymieing sales of certain books by making it impossible to pre-order them, and pushing back delivery of others all over a e-book contract dispute. The situation isn't really even about Hachette any more -- the New York Times notes that few of the hundreds of signers of a recent open letter to Amazon's board of directors are even published by the French firm. It's about something more fundamental. Those authors (or at least a decent chunk of them) now plan to call on the Department of Justice to formally investigate Amazon for monopolistic activity.

To quote recent signer Ursula K. LeGuin, the big issue at stake here is censorship -- "Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable." By trying to squeeze certain unlucky authors out of the sales charts by dint of their publisher, Amazon has riled up an incredibly savvy, literate, smart group of people who know how to use their voices -- not exactly the sort you'd want to make enemies out of. Last we heard, the final draft of the letter (which will be sent to the head of the department's antitrust division) should be done -- now we've got to wait for everyone to sign it.

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