Scott Turow on CBS This Morning: Authors Face a “Many Faceted Battle”

When Scott Turow stopped by CBS This Morning last week to promote his new book, Identical, co-anchor Charlie Rose turned the discussion to Turow’s “beef with Amazon,” while Norah O’Donnell brought up his April New York Times piece on  “The Slow Death of the American Author.”

Turow said Amazon’s below-cost ebook pricing, “destroys physical bookstores and drives the reading public into the ebook, which of course Amazon dominates. They’re a great competitor and I don’t mind fair operation of the market. I don’t like unfair tactics.”

Responding to O’Donnell, Turow then listed other flash points, adding that bestselling authors are doing fine, the concern is how these affect the prospects for other working authors (who, of course, write most of the books that wind up in libraries and bookstores):

“Authors are being attacked at all sides. Publishers want to reduce royalties on ebooks. Search engines lead people to pirated books. Companies like Google want to use copyrighted material in response to searches; even librarians want to join in that effort. Some academics want to get rid of copyright.”

“So what are you going to do about it?” Charlie Rose asked.

“Fight back,” Turow said. “That’s all you can [do]: fight back. It’s a many faceted battle.”

You can view Scott’s interview below. The discussion about authors and the book industry begins at the 2:00 min mark.

Comments: more
  • Betsy Robinson

    I just learned that amazon’s foreign royalty “threshold” system may not be fair to writers either. You must sell a threshold amount of books before you receive payment. If you have direct deposit for your royalties, that amount can be as low as $10. However, if your bank is not registered for a country (in my case, Canada!), that amount is $100. At a royalty of $2.06 per book, I need to sell at least 49 books; I have sold a grand total of 8 in a year. Not a big seller. But I wonder how many writers are selling one or two foreign copies, and how big is the pool of royalties that may take years, if ever, to be paid out? I’ve protested, closed my foreign sales, and suggested that amazon change its policy to pay all monies owed, no matter how much they are, by end of year. Amazon has no investment to make back. It is simply hoarding royalties from foreign sales for low-selling ebooks.

    • Joseph P. Martino

      I have a similar problem. I’ve sold over 2K of my book in the US this year, but only a handful overseas. I’ll never see that money. Amazon is getting a permanent interest-free loan from me.

      • Betsy Robinson

        I have changed my sales to be USA only and I’ve complained enough to annoy Amazon into sending me a check for the one Canadian sale of my book–to settle accounts now that I’m no longer selling in Canada. I suggest you complain, Joseph. Suggest that Amazon change their terms so that all sales markets settle accounts by year-end, no matter what the amount is. And I also think it would be nice if the Authors Guild looked into this. I’m guessing there is no way to see how much money is in this pool of unpaid “interest-free loans” from authors who will never see their foreign sales royalties.

  • Richard Grayson

    He makes me want to vomit when he talks about how he doesn’t like unfair competition and yet he sanctioned and still in retrospect supports the illegal activity of price-fixing that has been proven again and again in the courts in the conspiracy of Apple and the trade publishers.

    That whole conspiracy against the ebook-reading public, and Mr. Turow’s involvement in it, has brought only shame to the Authors Guild. To me, his opinions are worthless.