Why Is the Authors Guild Supporting Publishers Against Amazon—And More Than It Supports Authors?

Because guilds don't like competition.


Techdirt asks that interesting question, and helps remind us how the sort of new(er) market entrants making things better/easier/cheaper for both producers and consumers will be vilified and fought when they start chopping away at easy livings available to the powerful and influential before the newcomer came along.

Nick Gillespie wrote the best account out there about how, in a war between Amazon and the traditional publishing industry, both readers and writers ought to be on Amazon's side.

But Techdirt wonders why the Authors Guild takes publishers' side over Amazon's, which generally means over actual authors:

How does the collective voice of American authors, the supporter of working writers, the advocate for the rights of writers, go about fighting for that living wage? Especially given that publishers are making more money from digital booksthan ever, and sharing less of that money with authors than ever.

… the moment when the Authors Guild had maximum leverage over legacy publishers to extract some actual digital royalty and contract provision concessions — during Hachette's contract standoff with Amazon — the organization surrendered that leverage and threw all its Collective Voice of American Authors weight behind Hachette. Even though Hachette's positionwas costing authors money; even though Amazon had repeatedly offered to compensate any authors who were being harmed by the standoff.

What's doubly bizarre about the Authors Guild's reflexive anti-Amazon animus is that Amazon stands for so much of what the Authors Guild claims to want. A pristine example: as I write this, the organization bleats on its home page that "Half of Net Proceeds is the Fair Royalty Rate for E-Books," while two lines down it calls on the government to investigate Amazon…for paying exactly that fair royalty!…

If the Authors Guild really wanted to "advocate for fair contracts," it would support self-publishing, which even more than Amazon publishing is empowering authors with the first real competition the industry has ever seen — a 70% digital royalty rate (four times the lockstep legacy standard); control over packaging and other business decisions; faster time to market. Yet there's nothing on the Authors Guild website about how to use KDPKoboNookPressSmashwords, or any other self-publishing resource…..

Now look, there's nothing wrong with lobbying the government on behalf of big publishers. The First Amendment guarantees the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, after all, and it doesn't say those grievances can't be self-serving or even that they have to be sane. I just wish all these organizations pretending to advocate for authors would call themselves something a little more honest. Power in publishing is already horrendously lopsided. Publisher lobbyists masquerading as author champions only makes things worse.

Much of Amazon's benefit to writers and readers is in the ease, and profit margins, with which it puts the tools of self-publishing in every writer or would-be writer's hands. I wrote back in June about some of the more insane attempts to act like this is a bad thing for authors or for culture. (Hint: it's Ayn Rand's fault!) More writers out there acting like entrepreneurs sucks, because, uh, Ayn Rand was an individualist and this system is individualistic for would-be authors!

Which helps explain the answer to Techdirt's naive question about why the Authors Guild would not be on Amazon's side: The Authors Guild is a guild. And guilds don't tend to like it when it is easier for newcomers to compete with the already entrenched.

Lucky for all of us, writers and readers, Amazon doesn't have to care all that much what they think. Except of course when they are leaning on government to punish Amazon for its practices that make life better for everyone except entrenched publishers, and Guilds.

NEXT: Staten Island Cops Drag Man Out of His House at 5:30 a.m., Beat the Hell Out of Him, Charge Him With Nothing

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  1. “Why is the Authors Guild Support Publishers Against Amazon”

    Is good question, da!

    (might need an -ing in there Mr. D)

    1. Yes, that error was live for about 45 seconds…gone if you refresh. Or don’t refresh and stare at it forever if you care to…

      1. In an earlier thread I stated that KMW seems like she would be fun to hangout with, and I meant fun as in a jovial and good-time shenanigan-having sort of way.

        Doherty seems like he would be fun to hangout with too, but fun as in a “getting wet with Wayne Brady” sort of way.

        1. Is Doherty gonna have to choke a bitch?

          1. Fact: when you hang with Doherty you always eat your sandwich.

            1. Those dogs look evil.

      2. I missed the missing ing. I miss all the really interesting things that happen here. Can you take it back off again?

  2. Rowdy Roddy Piper is dead.…..1-1.339259

      1. Either put on these glasses or start eatin’ that trash can.

        1. Not this year.

    1. That there isn’t already a province named after Piper is a pox on the frozen tundra that is America’s little sister.

      1. Tell that to Rowdy’s face.

        Well, the casket.

        This country has a name and it’s PIPERNADA.

    2. I’ll just leave this here.

      1. Quite possibly the greatest clip of ALL TIME OF ANYTHING.

      2. Is that where Al Pacino learned how to act?

      3. “Four coconuts.”
        “You want a banana – have a banana.”

        I’m in tears here.

    3. They (Don’t) Live.

    4. NooOooooOOOooooOooOoooooooo!!!!!!!!!

  3. Amazon doesn’t like poems or trinkets
    or wine or booze or spells.
    Amazon likes the dollar bill.
    Amazon doesn’t get fucked up like my head.
    Amazon is miserable to work for.
    Amazon is a strange shitty corporation.
    But Amazon has sent me fucking bed sheets by
    friday for free
    and this shit fucking horrible ass eating fucktard corp
    has sent tons of clothing, books, songs, shoes, speakers, pc parts, and a sweet little asian on a tuesday with blonde hair up north and south. I bought her a steak and I sucked her asshole and I lapped like a thirsty dog on her lips and when the done was done… the sweet Asian was bought a ticket home… back to her sweet japanese billionaire boys.

  4. Amazon does not give a shit about writers or authors or spaceships or girlfriends or trees or old alligators…
    Amazon does care about the mathematics of clicks and le’ logarithms of things people want…

    Amazon doesn’t give a shit about river clicking and clackings
    Amazon doesn’t have the brain to love under emotions felt by a old boy electronics on the side of a mountain.
    Amazon sells goods- not love.

  5. My view is why the FUCK are big boys give attention to?
    My view is.. if you all get pissed off at the internet shitty fuck shop…
    why write for it?

    Make your own lines smashed into the ocean hooking your lovely reader, babes.
    Fuck the publishers and FUCK amazon…
    offer the universe your papers and among the billions on this marble more than fewage will seek your art.

    1. Good Evening, A C!

      “Fewage” is quite the neologism.

    2. Hello AC.

      It is much easier to self publish nowadays, but the old ways sometimes die hard.

    3. Hey AC. Just so ya know, it always makes my day when I show up here and you’ve gifted us your wondrous musings. Keep on keepin’ on bro!

      1. you gift me withyour love, baby. Man, I dont deserve JB game plan, dear.

    4. Uh, AC? Is it possible your meds are a tad off?

  6. Goddamn libertarian curfew.

    1. It’s 10:32. Do you know where Epi’s mother is?

      1. Left here an hour ago. Didn’t ask her who was next. We don’t really talk.

  7. There is a local, lefty (surprise!) columnist who jumps on this bandwagon about once a month. He’s truly an econ-ignoramus; when gas jumped in price, oh, 10 years ago, he immediately claimed price signals ‘don’t work’ because people didn’t abandon their SUVs beside the road the week the prices zoomed. I sent him a note, explaining how those choices are made at the margins and got back a nasty reply. Two months later, when you couldn’t give an SUV away, I sent him a NEENER, NEENER, NEENER, YOU FUCKING IDIOT! note and was promptly banned from his in-box. Guy doesn’t take reasoned argument well, I guess.
    Anyhow, he’s absolutely certain that Amazon holds a “monopoly” on book distribution now, since his local book store closed some time back, so Amazon is a big nasty KORPARASHUN that needs government regulation now.
    I’m sure he was also up in arms about the socialist bookstore closing because of the higher minimum wage in SF, but I seem to have missed that column. Hey, Jon, on the off-chance you read this: NEENER, NEENER, NEENER!

    1. Solution of course is $20 minimum wage.

    2. Left-wing writers are the worse to send notes to.

      I did that mistake years and years ago to a left-wing American draft dodger turned Canadian sports writer.

      Think Sad Beard writing about sports and knowing fuck all about that too.

      1. Sorry. The response was something along the lines of ‘take it to someone who cares’.

        What a douche barf bag.

      2. Rufus J. Firefly|7.31.15 @ 11:17PM|#
        “Left-wing writers are the worse to send notes to.”

        Not when you get to write: NEENER, NEENER, NEENER YOU FUCKING IDIOT!

      3. Rufus J. Firefly|7.31.15 @ 11:17PM|#
        “Left-wing writers are the worse to send notes to.”

        Another circumstance:
        Another lefty wrote a blatant lie about O-care; I called her on it and got a reply saying she would forward my note to letters-to-the-editors.
        I did send one more asking if that meant her editors allowed her to lie regularly. Notes after that have been returned.

    3. Sounds like Talton, you are in Seattle, amirite?

      1. Nope. SF.
        Jon Carrol is the idiot; SF Chron writer.

  8. I love Amazon. I am not a writer. I buy everything from there. Month ago maybe we were steaming a movie through Amazon Prime. Lots of buffering issues which is not the norm. A couple days later get an email from Amazon saying hey noticed you were having trouble with a movie you were watching the other day. Sorry about that, we’re crediting you the full amount. We had never contacted them about it, they reached out to us to credit us. WHO DOES THAT!

      1. They were probably watching us watching the movie through our security camera.

      2. sweet Ayn checking through her mod clouds, baby.

      3. If your porn doesn’t buffer in a reasonable length of time, the NSA agent is just as frustrated as you are.

        Amazon is ridiculously customer friendly, though.

        1. Amazon has the shittiest video service for rural….
          Netflix makes Amazon like a baby boo.

          man, Amazon…. I love. but I am so ready for a new lover…. because Amazon is like a lover that gets too relaxed…

          I love a trillion dollar lover……
          but, back up, babe…….

    1. The couple of times I’ve had to deal with their customer service it’s been a very professional experience. They credited me both times courteously and efficiently.

      Unlike Sears.

    2. I’ve had that happen a couple of times. Amazon has great customer service. There have been a few times where the delivery person just placed a box on the street outside my office saying nobody was there. I told amazon my delivery never came and they simply sent me another item, no questions asked, and apologized for the inconvenience.

  9. Amazon sends me lasers and fucking parties and fogs and enture housal thang wangs…
    Amazon sends me drip draps and collects of emptied rivers, niggas.
    Amazon rocks swerving packages broken by my pile of porn vids
    which I watch witha giraffe hunted by a dentist while my baby hack a shack with her ass up in the moontrips….slipa dicka dicka sweet cunt love lights…peace out

  10. Fuck that motherfucking lion.. man…

    Tired of hunters getting FUCKED UP by this fucking planet man…

    Dentist wanted to kill some motherfucker but a billion little tiny shoulder shits on twitter eat my screaming carrots. and screaming algae. and screaming lettuce. and screaming radishes. and screaming killah peppers

    If trees should be saved. If you give your life to forests and you manage entire teams to save a millions jungles…

    WHY are you a vegetarian?
    WHY do you eat leaves and beans?
    WHY do you eat tiny trees called broccoli?

    1. There’s always Soylent Green.

      1. Baby, my arms eat spaceships filled with tons of fucking lettuces, babalicious.


    2. “If we’re not supposed to eat animals,
      then why are they made out of meat?”

      1. I love animals, typically rare to medium rare.

      2. meat makes my arms sad
        but a screaming villages offer a tons of tunnels
        and my teeths scrape bones on little keyboards roasted with rapping clouds where huge fucking
        white spaces trappisise with super big bills and no FUCKING motherFracking but
        can swing down a little backwang grang grill.

        this is the thing

  11. my arms have eyeballs
    and my walls slip with dyainaingauanauuga.g snoopdogggya wa

    1. my arms have eyeballs

      I read this as “my armballs have eyes.”

      It’s past my bedtime.

  12. fuck this shit for reals nigga man my fFUCKING

    my niggas in commentarlords….
    Tons of niggasin coms… and yon stracklorduses when strass stars slappshilpping w
    lovin my sweet bitch
    fuckng my finger bleedsfrom two

  13. ok well i see i light
    in the dark alleys
    under lost stars
    and if a stairway was forever lost
    I fell down it
    under 675 flight brazil
    but I died…

    for real…
    i am fucked up but i can’t talk stories anymre
    life ain’t real anymore. baby
    I am gone bjut i can’t get deep becuase life
    in modern time has killed deel scary thought

    ….. if i should go there….

    no one does that anymore…
    but I will… FUCK the internet.

    this is NOT real. and hammered trip//

    1. I woke up in the summer of 1998
      and I knew jerry would be visiting that night-
      it was saturday and i wished as always
      I could visit Dan Strasel… the dude
      hacked into the early 80’s library shit
      and Dan hacked this Moriah into and under
      neath the nose of his pc teacher in late 80’s

      I love you Dan Strasel….
      you live moriah and the teacher
      had no idea and I tried so hard to
      break into that green world, Dan.
      I tried so FUCKING hard, Stras…
      I got it but you were so fucking outside
      my world you Maria/ Moria guy….

      I trippped on deeper thoughts
      and lives, Danny….

      I don’t understand what happeded to us

  14. baby, I knew you broke into
    deep internet but i always
    gave you respek and love

    you lifted the phone off the modem in 1998 baby
    and the deep green lost world of moriah- the original
    game no gamer will ever find but My babythug tugs
    at my heart

  15. Joe Konrath rips these assholes into shreds regularly.

    Plenty of other links at the blog post.

    1. goddamn motherfucking horribly shitty ass lord jesus killing writers…
      Should wake up and love Joe and Chippy.
      Why not? Chippy and silly Joe are doing exactly what MOST writers are uncomfortuable with….

      Chippy and that shit eating fucking on that video will never write a Sartre book
      I guess you all should just eat a rhino hoof to the head, baby or else you suck?


      Fuck your Chippy FUCKING chippi fuck me.

      Write. Love.

      and love.

      and finger fuckin liquor

      1. I like the liquor part.

  16. can old sex and love
    be aired 30 years on top?
    multiple lovers and several titties and assholes and dicks….

  17. This is an extremely awkward night.
    Not like a norm Fri.
    Um. the energy here on the words and sentences is very discomfit.
    I can’t feel so offhand and fuck even though I am
    I wish that when shit on the greater boards get evil deep may reason give my light
    heart a trippy click… not to judge the drak and humid places but to release my clouds.

    tonight is different and I must go.

    1. You have a wonderful night, A.C..

  18. “Why is the Authors Guild Support Publishers Against Amazon”

    Because the Authors Guild is dead, but it’s mostly dead in the twilight zone and so doesn’t realize it’s dead?

  19. Eh. Amazon is bad in the long run, because it might be 70% now, in the future when they have destroyed all competition, it will be much less.

    1. JeremyR|8.1.15 @ 12:41AM|#
      ‘Eh. Amazon is bad in the long run, because it might be 70% now, in the future when they have destroyed all competition, it will be much less.”

      Try again to make the first of the sentence not contradict the last of it.

    2. So helping sellers sell things is bad because someone else wants to sell things?

  20. I’m guessing you are a simpleton, JeremyR, but tell us more.

  21. I was on that edge where it was still the kiss of death to self-publish. Learned how to make ebooks before Smashwords was online. (I broke Smashwords in beta testing. Twice.) Made them in all the different formats. Learned how to set type. Learned how to be a publisher that doesn’t do returns (THE HORRORS!) and doesn’t take shit from indie bookstores who hate indie authors. And romance.

    Turns out, I’m a lot better ebook formatter and typesetter than I am a marketer. (Some people even think I’m a good writer. Some don’t. That’s okay.) It doesn’t matter so much what you write or how well you write, as long as you can market and ride the wave.

    So as for author services, I was doing very well the second Smashwords put its hat in the ring and self-publishing was all about the rebels, man. (Gee, ya think?) But the pioneers take the arrows and I took my share.

    Amazon made traditional publishing the ghetto, turned the whole schmere upside down. The indie authors have control and the ones who know how to market do very well. The thing that keeps authors on the hook for traditional publishers is the need for validation, for “The Call” from a publisher to say, “Hey, we like your book. Now you may have the privilege of being able to say you ‘have a publisher’ and you’re going to pay for that privilege. Bend over. No lube.”

    1. This the Authors Guild’s attempt to stay relevant (if they ever were) in an industry whose blockbuster fiction days can no longer support the midlist or literary fiction.

      So I got a whole new career, between Smashwords and Amazon. It wasn’t the ebooks so much. It was the Kindle, the Whispernet, instant download, no messing around with those icky USB cords.

      Amazon has its issues, I’m not going to lie, but if Barnes & Noble could’ve gotten off its ass and bought a few IQ points to figure out how to compete (or even if they wanted to), this conversation would be different.

      Remember, these are the same people who were bitching about Barnes & Noble and Borders B.A. (Before Amazon).

      They lack imagination.

  22. Any of you booknerds read The Martian: by Weir yet?

    I assume it’s been covered, already but I am enjoying how it’s getting non-scifi people in to those kind of stories. I think it’s amazing and don’t care whether or not they screw it up with the movie.

    1. I read it in an afternoon and sat there literally agape with joy that the book existed, but with tears in my eyes that it wasn’t real.

      Seriously. I sat there and said, “This motherfucker just wrote about amperage for three pages and MADE ME LIKE IT.”

    2. I read it in an afternoon and sat there literally agape with joy that the book existed, but with tears in my eyes that it wasn’t real.

      Seriously. I sat there and said, “This motherfucker just wrote about amperage for three pages and MADE ME LIKE IT.”

    3. Martian is a great read. Lots of science for people who like it, but it is all so accessible, you don’t have to be a physics nerd to comprehend what is happening.

    4. It was an enjoyable book, for sure.

  23. As those of you who’ve been subjected to my shilling of my books know, I am published through KDP.

    What strikes me is that no one has yet mentioned Kindle Unlimited. I know it’s not central to the argument of the irrelevent old fogies versus the future, but I’ve become rather pleased with it. A lot of people over in the KDP community were bitching and moaning, but these were the same people who complained they were going to lose money when KU was introduced. For some odd reason they all seem to be in the opt-in program and are now bitching and moaning that the change is a way to cheat writers out of money.

    What the change did was reward people who hold readers’ attention. To get the full borrow value of your book the reader had to read to the end. If your readers abandon your work, you get less. If you write five page pamphlets you get jack shit. (Under the old system a pamphlet was worth as much as a full-length novel and triggered the ‘borrow’ condition the moment it was opened. So scammers flooded the market with them to skim off the KU fund.)

    I like the new system for two reasons – my books are on the longer side, and people tend to read them all the way through. If the estimates by the community are correct, a borrow under the new system could be worth more to me than a purchase. But we still don’t know the value per page, since that data comes out on August 15th.

    This just makes me more pro-Amazon.

    1. That’s how I read your books… was meaning to ask how the payment scheme worked

      1. Every month, Amazon sets up a fund of $X . At the end of the month, that fund is divided by the number of ‘shares’ of the fund generated by reader activity. In months past, a share was a discreet borrow. As of July, a share is a page read. The author gets an amount of money equal to their number of shares times the value of the share. This means the value changes month to month based upon the readers, but it is not a very large range. Amazon does try to tune it so that everyone is happy because they need the content creators to keep the customers to make money, but they also need to make money to keep the scheme going.

        1. Stupid question… do you get more through KU than you do from a direct $2.99 purchase? I have loved KU so far, I’ve discovered loads of new writers and books I’d never have taken a chance on otherwise. And it feeds my voracious reading appetite.

          I gather the $X fun is $9.99 * the number of KU subscribers/month?

          1. And… I just re-read your original comment, where you already explained that the new KU scheme could make you more than the purchase price.

            Let me know how that works out, so I’ll get your books by whatever means benefits you more.

  24. I’ve made some decent cash off of Amazon – though their search functions – as of late – seems to have pushed my books further off of the search engines. Or maybe the limited popularity of my works is to blame.

    Either way, these days I sell more through Barnes & Noble via Smashwords.

  25. After reading Agile Cyborg’s material in this thread, I am very tempted to change my username to Fuck That Fucking Lion.

    1. I think you should do it:)

    2. Would “I clean my woodchipper with lions” fit?

    3. Is there an explanation for AC somewhere? Perhaps on the wiki? Where is the wiki, anyway?

      Damn, I’ve been away too long.

  26. Author’s Guild-ed Cage

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