The “Authors Guild” Speaks

Scott Turow, President of the Authors Guild, posted an open letter to its members regarding the US Department of Justice’s impending anti-trust lawsuit against five of the Big 6 book publishers, plus Apple. The contents of the letter are laughable, and there have been responses already posted by Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler, Suzanne WhiteDavid Gaughran, and probably others I haven’t read.

I’d like to point out, though, that from the point of view of the Authors Guild, trying to survive, this stance is understandable. It still doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but it’s understandable. Here’s the quote I posted on Joe Konrath’s blog about it:

I haven’t read any of these comments, so maybe someone has already brought this up, but it seems to me that the motivations of the Authors Guild become more clear if you think about their role.

The Authors Guild ostensibly exists to defend the interests of authors. Against what? The interests of paper publishing industry. In this sense the Authors Guild is just another middleman, whose services are no longer needed in the absence of an oppressive status quo.

Really, if the Authors Guild advocates for authors, and then Amazon comes along and provides authors better terms than the Authors Guild has ever been able to do, you can see how Amazon would be framed as a competitor and an enemy. After all, what use does a self-published author have for the Authors Guild, anyway? If every author goes in that direction, where will that leave the organization? Where will they get their dues?

The Authors Guild is attempting to survive and stay relevant in a world that doesn’t need it (in its current form, at any rate; I imagine an association of authors could still be beneficial in a marketplace dominated by self-publishing).

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