updated 12:55 pm EST, Wed November 16, 2011
Authors' Guild gives Amazon authors advice
The Authors' Guild has made clear its displeasure with Amazon's book lending program for Prime subscribers. The company was turned down by the six largest US trade book publishers and allegedly disregarded the wishes of the next, lower-level tier of publishers. Amazon flouted its contracts to these publishers, they claimed, stating it can sell their books at any price as they are already paid.
The Authors' Guild insists that its terms don't involve giveaways, subscriptions, or lending by Amazon. A different lending program lets Amazon book owners lend books to their friends, but that's the readers' decisions, not Amazon's or a publisher's, the Guild said. As such, Amazon is supposedly breaching its contract with publishers.
Other contracts with smaller, newer publishers who did agree to Amazon's lending program believe that these publishers need to get approval from the authors of the books. Flat fees for a popular book won't make the publisher or its author any more money as lending goes up, they said. The Guild didn't attempt to reconcile this with the business model for public libraries, where the institutions don't necessarily pay extra.
The Amazon Lending Program is only available to those who signed up to the company's $79 per year Prime program. There are 5,000 titles to choose from, and users can only have one out at a time. If a new book is loaned, the current one is erased off the e-book reader. According to Amazon, some publishers accept a flat rate to have their books in the program, while others treat each loan as a purchase.