German authors protest to Amazon over e-book price war

Monday 18 August 2014 11.18
German authors accuse Amazon of "taking writers hostage" in its pricing battle
German authors accuse Amazon of "taking writers hostage" in its pricing battle

Over 1,000 German authors have signed a petition protesting against the methods used by online retailer Amazon in its e-book price battle with Scandinavian publishing house Bonnier. 

Nearly 1,200 authors signed an open letter in which they accused Amazon of "taking writers hostage" in its pricing battle. 

They took their cue from US writers involved in a similar protest over Amazon's e-book dispute with Hachette

"In the past few months, Bonnier authors are being boycotted and their books no longer held in stock," the letter said. 

It was signed by authors including Austrian Nobel literature prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek and the head of the German PEN writers' association, Regula Venske. 

"The delivery of the books is being subjected to a go-slow; false information is given about their availability; and the authors' names no longer appear on Amazon's recommended lists," the letter complained. 

"Amazon has no right to take hostage authors who are not directly involved in the conflict," it said. 

Neither Bonnier nor Amazon have commented publicly on their pricing dispute. 

Bonnier is a major player in German publishing, with a stable of houses including such as Ullstein, Carlsen and Piper. 

The authors asked readers to write directly to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos or the head of Amazon Germany, Ralf Kleber, "to make their views known about the latest blackmailing methods" employed by the online retail giant. 

At the end of June, Germany's book industry filed a complaint to the country's competition watchdog about Amazon's use of "blackmail" to gain discounts from publishers.