Monday, April 15, 2002

bezos gets it
It's good to see someone take a stand like the founder and CEO of has, when it comes to distributors and creators claiming that they are being harmed. has come under fire from the Executive Director of the Authors Guild, who makes the claim that Amazon's sale of used books on their website is hindering the sale of new books, and causing damages to authors:
As you may have read in the newspapers over the past few days, we've been criticized by the leadership of a small, but vocal organization because we sell used books on our website. This group (which, by the way, is the same organization that from time to time has advocated charging public libraries royalties on books they loan out) claims that we're damaging the book industry and authors by offering used books to our customers. They would have us stop offering used books, or at least put them in a separate section of our store instead of on our high traffic detail pages.

First, their assertion that used books hurt the book industry and authors is not correct. 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. Offering customers a lower-priced option causes them to visit our site more frequently, which in turn leads to higher sales of new books while encouraging customers to try authors and genres they may not have otherwise tried. In addition, when a customer sells used books, it gives them a budget to buy more new books.
Bezos goes on to make some other very good points about the sale of used books, and ends by asking Amazon customers to help out by sending an email to the leadership of the author's guild.

Used books have never had the distribution chain available to them that Amazon provides. I understand that a number of used books have been placed for sale through Amazon only days after a book has made its appearance on the site as a new offering. The fear that the Author's Guild is experiencing is understandable. But, I think that Jeff Bezos makes some great points. One of the things that the Author's Guild has to keep in mind is that Amazon is making more money from the sale of new books than from used books. They are the Authors Guild's partner in selling to the public.

I also like the Amazon founder's tone in this message. He asks:
Please write an email to the Executive Director of the Authors Guild (the leadership of which orchestrated this campaign) explaining how the sale of used books actually helps the entire book industry. Of course, a polite and civil tone is appropriate-- these are good people who haven't had input on all sides of this issue. You may agree with the points above, or you may have your own reasons, but please share them with the Authors Guild. If you make a living from selling used books, please mention that too.
If more companies behaved this way, there might be a lot less lawsuits.

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