Scott Turow Elected President of Authors Guild; Judy Blume Is Vice President

April 28, 2010. At the annual meeting of the Authors Guild in New York yesterday, members elected Scott Turow as their president and Judy Blume as their vice president.  Meg Cabot, Michelle Richmond and T.J. Stiles joined the Guild’s executive Council.  Roy Blount Jr. concluded his presidency of the Authors Guild, the largest organization of published book authors in the U.S., after serving four years.  

During his term, Mr. Blount oversaw the negotiation of a landmark settlement with Google, which, if approved, would open up new markets for authors of out-of-print  books.  He also guided Authors Guild positions and initiatives on many issues involving e-book rights and electronic royalties, including the Guild’s backing of the so-called agency model for the sale of e-books and the Guild’s launch — during the showdown between Macmillan and Amazon — of the Who Moved My Buy Button? website to allow authors to keep track of their “buy buttons” at Amazon.

“See this Google thing through, make sure Amazon doesn’t take over the book industry, find out why e-book royalty rates are so shamefully low, and keep the digital pirates at bay,” Mr. Blount advised Mr. Turow.  “The rest should take care of itself.”

“Roy’s done a tremendous job, and has kept the Authors Guild in the thick of things during a time of rapid change in book publishing,” said Mr. Turow.  “It’s the Guild’s job to do what it can to make sure authors are fairly paid for their work.  Roy certainly has kept the Guild focused on that.  For authors, as the book industry continues its digital transformation, the challenges are only going to build.  Authors are going to need every source of income they can get.”

Guild members re-elected Peter Petre as treasurer and Pat Cummings as secretary, and re-elected Council members Barbara Taylor Bradford, Susan Cheever, James Gleick, John R. (Rick) MacArthur and Jean Strouse. On Monday, the Guild’s Council appointed Michelle Richmond to fill a vacancy on the board.

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Scott Turow is a writer and attorney.  He is the author of eight best-selling works of fiction, including his first novel, Presumed Innocent (1987) and the forthcoming sequel, Innocent, to be published by Grand Central Publishing in May, 2010.   He has also written two non-fiction books about his experiences in the law.  More…

Judy Blume’s twenty-eight titles range from picture books to bestselling novels, including Wifey, Smart Women, and Summer Sisters. She is perhaps best known for her books for young people, among them Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tiger Eyes, Forever, and the Fudge books. More…

Meg Cabot is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five series and books for both adults and tweens/teens, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide. Meg is currently writing a middle grade series called Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls,as well the Heather Wells mystery series for adult readers.  More…

Michelle Richmond is the author of the New York Times and international bestseller The Year of Fog, No One You Know, Dream of the Blue Room, and the award-winning story collection The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. More…

T.J. Stiles is the author of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War. More…

Photos and biographies are available here.

Comments: more
  • Michael Kingswood

    “It was precisely this practice – selling frontlist e-books at below cost to discourage and destroy competition – that helped Amazon capture a commanding 90% of the U.S. e-book market. ”

    Hey, douchebag.  Amazon had a 90% share because it was essentially the only player in the market, not because of “predatory pricing”, whatever that means (hint: no such thing).  Since that time, multiple other players have come online (Nook has matured, Apple entered, Kobo has grown).  THAT’s the reason Amazon’s market share has lowered.

    Jesus Cristo.  How about you guys study a little business and economics.  And, oh by the way, remember that your charter is to represent AUTHORS, not publishers.

    If ever I had the notion to one day join you guys, it is gone now.

  • John

    I was looking for the Publishers Guild – is this the right place?

  • TMaddox

    I keep reading this letter as a lowly reader trying to see where you tie all these complaints against Amazon back to your initial premise that:
     
    “The proposed settlement will almost certainly backfire and harm readers in the long run.”
     
    I did not really see you explain how these issues will harm readers. As a reader it seems to me that the AG should be about protecting the authors and not the publishers. It should be praising any system that makes it easier for readers to buy not only new releases but find older books by their favorite authors.
     
    Also, the Agency System is definitely not under attack. If it was then Random House would not be able to sit idly by while all of this is happening, happily continuing to use the Agency Model.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/KREUSTYQAHAEQCBD2Y3E6PLMYA RH19

       It will harm readers like me who love physical bookstores, and hate Amazon, if Amazon drives companies like B&N out of business.

      • Dan DeWitt

        I’m curious: At one point did you stop hating B&N for putting legions of bookstores out of business and start hating Amazon for trying to do the same thing to B&N?

        It is AMAZING to me how many people are blaming Amazon for putting bookstores out of business. That horse left the barn a long time before Amazon came along.

        • rebeccamherman

           all I care about is having a physical bookstore to shop at – B&N is willing to give me that, Amazon is not, and is in fact actively trying to drive out of business the company willing to provide what I as a customer want.

  • RexMonroy

    Now, now guys. The AG plays a valid role in today’s publishing environment. Sure in this post they accidentally used a poor example of an company under fire (I’m sure they aren’t really that bad. They’re just a vanity press after all and hardly a real publisher.)

    Mr. Aikiene is just trying to get across that Amazon is trying to hurt readers and writers. I mean cheap pricing, free shipping and a huge selection make Amazon a huge monopoly and, you know what, that’s just not fair on publishers and authors. I mean I hear that Amazon is offering 70% royalties all the way upto $9.99. That’s like $8 per sale. How will publishers be able to exist like that? I got 7% on my last deal and it’s just not fair. I mean I know that my publisher has a lot of costs (rent in New York city, lots of staffs, marketing costs and returns, etc.), but they give back to me tenfold: I got a ad in the local paper and a few copies of my book. They sold really well on e-bay!

    • RexMonroy

      I guess what i’m saying is that, like the letter says, we need to give publishers their rights back (through the law if necessary). The government needs to do something about this today. Amazon and B&N and, oh yeah, Kobo (that store is trying to steal publishers international rights!) need to be regulated. I’m an author and I fully support the AG’s lobbying of the DoJ.  I think the AG should join the suit too. They could advise legal council on what writers and readers want. 

      … this whole thing makes me too angry. I’m going to my local booksto… Oh, whoops, it closed down yesterday. Ah well, guess i’m off to Amazon. I wish there was a B&N in town, but Walmart out them out of business and they only sell James Patterson… not my favorite author if you know what I mean.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/KREUSTYQAHAEQCBD2Y3E6PLMYA RH19

       I’m a reader that cares more about the survival of bookstores and print books. I’d rather pay more to keep those things alive. You don’t speak for all customers.

  • LaResnick

     

    “Agency pricing, which the Justice Department believes
    was introduced through collusion,”

     

     

    No, the DoJ alleges that Apple and five major houses colluded
    on =price-fixing=. Which is an antitrust violation. These companies happened to
    use the agency model to (allegedly) do so, but they did not (no, not even
    allegedly) INTRODUCE the agency pricing model—which was and still is in
    widespread use among players NOT attracting DoJ allegations.

     

    Why does the AG continue to assert that =breaking
    federal law= is a reasonable response to being faced with aggressive new
    business competition? Apple and the five accused publishers were (and are)
    major corporations with enormous resources at their disposal for meeting aggressive
    competition with innovative practices and new strategies. In addition to being illegal, collusive price-fixing is a strategy so LACKING in innovation and newness that the laws against it are generations old.
     
    Finally, I notice you cite vanity presses among the
    companies you’re standing up for here. Including a vanity press which is
    currently the subject of a class action suit from the many writers it has (allegedly) cheated. Oh, well played, =Authors= Guild, well played.

    • Laura Resnick

       I direct the AG to the blog of novelist and lawyer Courtney Milan, who wrote: “…the allegations that are made in that complaint are that this was a
      conscious, criminal conspiracy to fix higher prices and cost consumers
      hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Criminal
      conspiracies, no matter their intent, are never in the best interest of
      the publishing community.”

      http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2012/05/16/a-letter-to-the-doj/

  • Barbra Annino

    Amazon is a distributor. If a business doesn’t approve of the way a distributor sells its products, the solution is to remove said product from distributor. Simple as that. Instead, publishers chose to break the law because they couldn’t figure out a smarter way to sell their own products. 

  • In Cartel We Trust

    Huh. Then I wonder why the Consumer Federation of American supports the DoJ’s actions…

    http://www.consumerfed.org/news/549

    “The self-interested claims of brick and mortar retailers and celebrity authors who profit from price fixing at the expense of consumers must not mislead the court into thinking that:

    (1) the public interest lies in anything short of restoring full price competition to the book publishing marketplace or

    (2) that the harm to competition inflicted by the agency cartel price-fixing for digital distribution of books at a critical moment in the nascent development of new digital business models can be repaired without a significant period of close oversight and scrutiny.”But Then again, they only care about readers’ rights….

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/KREUSTYQAHAEQCBD2Y3E6PLMYA RH19

       So just ignore the harm to customers who value brick and mortar bookstores, then, and let Amazon drive something they love out of business? I’d be devastated if bookstores were gone. They mean a lot to me as a reader. I have zero interest in buying anything from Amazon.

      • Dan DeWitt

        I like physical bookstores, too, but the DOJ isn’t interested in anyone’s sentimental attachments. They care about who illegally colluded. If you don’t want to buy anything from Amazon, don’t.

        If the bookstores want to stay in business, they should have a smarter business plan. I’ve said this a dozen times before: The market doesn’t owe them an existence.
         
        Trying to justify wholly illegal behavior merely because you like being able to run your finger along the spines is a joke.

        • rebeccamherman

           If they care about the interests of ALL consumers, and not just Amazon-shopping consumers who read ebooks (quite a narrow group here they want to protect), they should care about the value bookstores bring to many consumers.

          • Dan DeWitt

            Wow, you’re really ill-informed on this whole DOJ thing, or on publishing as a whole.

            Your whole argument boils down to, “The DOJ should turn a blind eye to illegal behavior because I like bookstores.”

          • rebeccamherman

            No, they should allow the publishers to set the price of THEIR product because giving Amazon even more power than it already has is harmful to all customers except buyers of only Kindle e-books.

          • Dan DeWitt

            The problem was never agency pricing, Rebecca. The problem was the Price Fix Six colluding to force agency pricing on Amazon. Which is illegal.

            Random House still uses agency pricing, and hey, look at that! Not being sued by the DOJ.

            Just out of curiosity, how is Amazon having control of pricing harmful in any way to readers? One of the biggest complaints about Amazon from the publishers is that they discount too much on both ebooks and physical books.

            Lastly, it’s important to note that Amazon doesn’t have to do anything. If a publisher wants Amazon to use agency, but Amazon doesn’t want to, the publisher can always pull their books. They won’t do that.

          • rebeccamherman

             They have the deep pockets to use predatory pricing to drive everyone else out of business. Anyone who loves books should not want one company having the power to take control of the entire business by cutting prices in a way that is unrealistic to expect anyone else to compete.

            And IF they even colluded, they did so because Amazon was a bully that was misusing its size and power.  A big company bullying everyone else.

          • Dan DeWitt

            Ummmm … wow.

            You got predatory pricing wrong, but that often happens when a person who has no clue about an issue just repeats talking points. You made up a future in which Amazon has complete control of the “entire business.” You glossed over the fact that Amazon’s market share has shrunk and Kobo’s, for example, has grown.

            Then you close by denying there was collusion, then excusing the collusion because Amazon was somehow “bullying” other big companies with low prices to consumers. Yet, these six large companies who illegally banded together to force Amazon to accept a different pricing model and intentidanhdewittonally RAISE consumer prices (led by Apple, who DWARFS Amazon) aren’t bullies because … I can’t figure that one out, either. All the publishers had to do was pull their books, which is something they’d never do because it would hurt them financially. They’re not principled, so they broke the rules, instead.
            Can’t argue with that non-logic. At this point, I’m almost rooting for every bookstore to close just out of spite.

          • rebeccamherman

             And you know when other company’s market shares grew? When agency pricing was introduced. Amazon could no longer use their deep pockets to use predatory pricing to gain a monopoly. Now they are stuck competing on device features, selection, and customer service.

          • http://twitter.com/roguecyber roguecyber

            You keep saying that Amazon has “deep pockets” when compared to Apple or B&N, do you even know what the term means?  “Deep Pockets” is typically used to refer to a company who is larger or has a more cash on hand.  This simply isn’t true when you compare Amazon to Apple or Barnes and Noble.  Apple could buy Amazon with cash should they choose to.  B&N is roughly 10 times the size of Amazon.  

            Also Amazon’s market share shrank when others entered the eBook market.   When Amazon had 90% of the market the only serious competitors where small independent ebook markets.

            Finally I wouldn’t call Amazon’s pricing predatory.  It’s simply competitive, particularly when you are trying to grow a market.  Even if it was predatory, that isn’t actually illegal or harmful to consumers, unlike price-fixing (estimates are around 200 million dollars that “the colluders” bilked out of readers).

          • rebeccamherman

             Predatory pricing is harmful to consumers, it reduces where they can shop and takes away choices and options when one company can do this to drive everyone else out of business. I’d rather have choices than super cheap prices.

          • http://twitter.com/roguecyber roguecyber

            I wouldn’t call 9.99 “super cheap” nor is it predatory.  I will repeat: 200 million dollars bilked from readers vs. ebooks at a reasonable price.

          • rebeccamherman

             And already I have less choices thanks to Amazon undercutting everyone. Borders is gone, so along with Waldenbooks, and who knows who long B&N can survive since they aren’t exactly making huge profits right now.

          • http://twitter.com/roguecyber roguecyber

            Here’s the thing:  Amazon had little to nothing to do with Borders financial problems.  They ran an unprofitable business and got screwed by a number of factors from a lack of available credit to falling property values.

          • rebeccamherman

             If you think the price is unreasonable, vote with your wallet. Don’t buy. If enough people were willing to pay, obviously they did not think it unreasonable.

          • rebeccamherman

            And really, I see no reason to care whether you are able to buy e-books at what you consider a “reasonable” price when you’d happily see the books I want (print) and the stores I want to buy them from gone forever if it would get you cheaper prices on your precious e-books.  Amazon and its defenders have made it clear they’ll happily throw every other reader in the world under the bus to get the almighty $9.99 ebook price point back.

          • Dan DeWitt

            Other companies’ market shares didn’t grow because of agency. They grew when they, I dunno, entered the ebook market and introduced their own ereaders. Jesus, I’ve wasted enough time on you.

          • http://twitter.com/roguecyber roguecyber

            I agree.  It’s rather like talking to a wall, and while talking to a wall can be entertaining after several glasses of wine, in the cold light of day one does feel rather silly.

        • rebeccamherman

           In fact, I find it ludicrous that the DOJ is claiming to try to “help competition” when their actions will in fact give customers LESS choices since they are wasting my tax money helping Amazon drive everyone else out of business so we are only left with Amazon.

          Some “competition” that is.

        • rebeccamherman

           Also, let us not forget Amazon removing the ability to purchase print books (by removing the buy button) when the dispute was solely over the terms of sale for e-books. Amazon clearly only values their customers who are interested in Kindle books, and no one else. And the DOJ is helping them why? Amazon’s tactics and business practices are far more threatening and harmful than anything the publishers have done or could ever do.

          • http://twitter.com/roguecyber roguecyber

            Didn’t happen.  As much as you would like to think it did, Amazon didn’t pull the buy button to the physical books as they still had a valid contract.  

            Unfortunately, IPG allowed their contract to lapse with Amazon, which meant that Amazon did not have the right to sell the eBooks.  To do other wise would have been criminal copyright infringement.   Amazon did not break the law, unlike the publishers named in this suite. 

          • rebeccamherman

             They did pull the buy button for physical books from Macmillan. Seems you are forgetting there was more than one incident of this.

          • http://twitter.com/roguecyber roguecyber

            LOL yeah that worked out so well for Amazon that they haven’t tried it since.  

            Macmillan demanded that Amazon change.  Amazon tried to resist and failed.  Or to quote the CEO of Macmillian: 

             “I want to assure you that Amazon has been working very, very hard and always in good faith to find a way forward with us. Though we haven’t always agreed, I remain full of admiration and respect for them. Both of us look forward to being back in business as usual.” 

            :)

  • Dan DeWitt

    Wait, I’m sorry: did Paul Aiken just use known vanity press and SCAM ARTIST PublishAmerica to attempt to bolster its argument? If Ihad any doubts left, they’ve been erased. The Author’s Guild couldn’t possibly care less about the authors it supposedly represents.

    • Katsheridan

      I agree, Dan. Does Authors Guild allow folks published by PublishAmerica and Author Source to join Authors Guild? Because if not, then they have absolutely no business using them as examples of “injured parties”.

  • Dan DeWitt

    My God, I can’t wait until this guild is obsolete. As out of touch, ill-informed, hypocritical, and self-serving as its leadership is, it shouldn’t be too long.

  • Rowena Cherry

    Wendy wants to surrender some of her rights under copyright law (to set a price for her work). 

    Chistian K(sic) thinks that it is good for readers when they cannot read a James Bond ebook unless they also purchase a Kindle. Where is the choice for readers, if you cannot read an Amazon exclusive ebook unless you own a Kindle?

    • Christian K

      https://read.amazon.com/  Works fine from any computer or mobile device (including nook, ipad, etc.)Also, very few businesses get to dictate retail pricing.   In the old paper book world authors never had the opportunity to dictate pricing, unless they sold directly to the consumer. 

      (hoping this doesn’t chomp formmating like my last comment.)

    • Katsheridan

      I read Kindle formatted books on an iPod Touch. And on my HP laptop. No Kindle necessary.

    • Dan DeWitt

      And I read Amazon books on my Iconia tablet and Android phone.

      Yeah, no choices for readers whatsoever.

  • Chistian K

    It’s increasingly obvious that the Authors Guild is out of touch and only supports the rights of publishing companies.

    Writers Beware and other organizations have repeatedly warned authors about Authors Solutions abusive practices .  Why doesn’t the Authors Guild support good contracts for all authors?IPG allowed their contract with Amazon to lapse.  So, Amazon respected copyright law and removed the products from sale.  Why would the Authors Guild support copyright infringement? DC was looking for a digital retailer with reach and has reported the agreement with Amazon has been beneficial to the comic book market.   Why would the Authors Guild be against more markets for authors works?How can lower pricing and more choice be “bad for readers”?

  • Rowena Cherry

    Thank you!

  • http://therohmliteraryagency.com/ Wendy Goldman Rohm

    Note that in France bookstores and book sales are thriving because the government sets limits on ebook pricing. See NY Times article in the past two weeks. One reason why France is a great place for writers. French culture honors writers at all  costs.

    Best regards,
    Wendy Goldman Rohm