Authors Guild: Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library is "Nonsense"
November 16, 2011 12:35 PM
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Amazon is paying the publishers for each book that is loaned out, but publishers also want a a say in how their books are used
November has been a huge month for Amazon with the addition of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library to Amazon Prime memberships and the release of its first
Kindle Fire tablet
just yesterday. But with much success comes a few bumps in the road, and the Authors Guild is working to provide such obstacles in Amazon's road to success.
The Authors Guild, which is a non-profit American organization of and for authors, criticized
Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library
in a post dated November 14 on its own website.
According to the Authors Guild, Amazon blatantly disregarded the wishes of some U.S. trade book publishers by offering their books in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library after they denied Amazon this privilege.
The Authors Guild's statement on its website described Amazon's process of approaching large U.S. book publishers earlier this year for permission to offer their books in the lending program. According to the Authors Guild, the six largest U.S. book publishers -- Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan -- turned Amazon down. None of the Big Six's books are in the lending library.
Amazon reportedly went to the next tier of book publishers to seek permission from them, and many rejected its request.
But the Authors Guild notes that Amazon disregarded these rejections and placed books from these publishers into the lending library anyway. It said Amazon got away with this by twisting the interpretation of contracts the online retailer has with publishers. According to Amazon's supposed understanding of these contracts, it's only required to pay publishers the wholesale price of the books downloaded, so it can sell e-books at any price (including giving them away) as long as it pays the publishers.
As it turns out, Amazon is paying the publishers for each book that is loaned out. However, the point that the Authors Guild is making is that publishers don't just want money -- they want a say in how their books are used as well.
"From our understanding of Amazon's standard contractual terms, this is nonsense," said the Authors Guild. "Publishers did not surrender this level of control to the retailer. Amazon's boilerplate terms specifically contemplate the sale of e-books, not giveaways, subscriptions, or lending (Amazon does have a lending program that some publishers have authorized, but it's a program that allows customers -- not Amazon -- to lend their puchased e-books)."
The Authors Guild instructed authors who have found their books in Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library against their permission to contact their publisher as well as the Authors Guild's attorneys.
In other related news,
The Christian Science Monitor
reported yesterday that the Kindle Fire tablet could top 5 million sales in two months. With
a hit on Amazon's hands
, which could expedite the success of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, publishers have a heavy battle ahead of them.
The Authors Guild
The Christian Science Monitor
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RE: So Mad!
11/16/2011 7:16:14 PM
Yeah, and take all the authors they represent with them!
For that matter, why do we need publishers at all, when the quality of self-published e-books is so high?
Sarcasm aside, I'll be the first to say that publishers are daft, and by fighting e-books (instead of embracing them) with the agency model, they have failed to move with the times and are paying for it now. That's a shame since they are the ones who make it so books can get edited, marketed, and proofread. That is really important.
"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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