Amazon offers Hachette authors 100% of e-book sale revenues, suspension of shipping delays, says authors should be 'out of the middle' of conflict; critics say offer attempts to pit authors against Hachette instead

, July 8, 2014 () – Amazon, awash in negative publicity in its confrontation with Hachette over e-book terms, is seeking to break the standoff by appealing directly to the publisher’s authors.

David Naggar, an Amazon executive who works with publishers and independent authors, sent a letter this week to a small group of Hachette writers proposing “a big windfall for authors” by taking them “out of the middle” of the dispute, according to a copy of the letter that was seen by The New York Times.

The letter extends and develops a proposal Amazon made earlier in the dispute, which was dismissed by Hachette. It now offers Hachette authors “100 percent of the sales price of every Hachette e-book we sell.” Amazon also offered to suspend all its shipping delays and price adjustments, which it put in place in an effort to bend Hachette to its will.

Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild, dismissed the proposal.

“If Amazon wants to have a constructive conversation about this, we’re ready to have one at any time,” she said in an email. “But this seems like a short-term solution that encourages authors to take sides against their publishers. It doesn’t get authors out of the middle of this – we’re still in the middle. Our books are at the center of this struggle.”

A Hachette spokeswoman had no immediate comment. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment. Mr. Naggar said in the letter that it was a tentative proposal that the company was running by writers before giving to Hachette.

The letter also went on to blame Hachette for not negotiating, saying Amazon had contacted the publisher to discuss terms at the beginning of January.

“We heard nothing from them for three full months,” the letter says. “After our last proposal to them on June 5, they waited a week to respond at all, promising a counteroffer the following week. We are still waiting a month later.”

Copyright 2014 The New York Times Company

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