In the article on the Amazon versus Hachette dispute, the reporter Katharine Schwab writes that it’s a question of “convenience versus conscience,” with people of conscience supporting Hachette and people who put convenience ahead of conscience supporting Amazon [“Amazon vs. Hachette: Soul searching in techie, bookish Seattle,” Local News, Aug. 9]. This way of framing the issue is backward.
In 2012, the Department of Justice found that Hachette and other large commercial publishers had violated U.S. anti-trust law by colluding to keep e-book prices artificially high. People of conscience should oppose, not support, the efforts of the publishing conglomerates to overcharge customers.
My own publisher set the price of the Kindle version of my latest book — which is non-technical and I had hoped would get a broad readership — at $49.99. No one in their right mind would pay that much for the electronic version of my book. But authors have no say. We all want our books to attract a lot of readers, but our publishers stand in the way of this when they charge exorbitant prices for e-books. (In contrast, Amazon’s policy is to encourage e-book pricing at under $10.)
Students also suffer because of profiteering by the publishers, who charge outrageous prices for required textbooks, whether in hard copy or electronic form, because they know that students are a captive readership. If Amazon had its way, the prices of all e-books, including textbooks, would be under $10. That would be a step in the direction of making college affordable. People of conscience should support that.
Neal Koblitz, Seattle