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On the Books: German authors sign open letter criticizing Amazon tactics

While Amazon and Hachette duke out their differences in the United States, German publisher Bonnier is now involved in a similar dispute with Amazon. Amazon and Bonnier are also negotiating over ebook prices for books published by Bonnier, and while negotiations are ongoing, Amazon has delayed shipment for their books and discouraged customers from buying them. More than 1,000 authors are protesting the treatment, signing an open letter to be published in several major newspapers in the region, and those authors include 2004 Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, bestselling authors Ingrid Noll and Nele Neuhaus, and many others.

“Amazon manipulates recommendation lists. Amazon uses authors and their books as a bargaining chip to exact deeper discounts,” the letter reads. Germany is Amazon’s largest market outside of the US. [The New York Times]

The Observer profiles Russell Grandinetti, a senior vice president at Amazon and the man representing the company in the publishing world. He’s one of the most important people in the Amazon-Hachette dispute, and probably in the publishing world at large. “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.” [The Guardian]

Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy and Time book critic, writes about finding his voice in fantasy after trying out literary fiction. “In a fantasy world those demons can get out, where you can grapple with them face to face,” he writes. “The story I was telling was impossible, and I believed in it more than I believed in the 10,000 entirely reasonable, plausible things I’d written before.” [The New York Times]

At The Guardian, Sam Leith wonders why British people love to hate Martin Amis. “But there are really three Amises. There’s Amis the writer and Amis the private individual. And then there’s Amis the public figure: the Idea of Martin Amis. That’s the Amis who hogs the attention and draws the fire. The other two are, as it were, collateral damage.” [The Guardian]

The Jewish Books Council put together a “Jewish literary map of New York City,” an annotated map of the city marking places referred to in great books by Jewish writers. [Jewish Book Council]

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