Ursula K. Le Guin and Other Literary Heavyweights Call Amazon/Hachette “Censorship”

In this morning’s New York Times, Ursula K. Le Guin has some strong words against Amazon, regarding the endless Amazon/Hachette dispute over ebooks (and the future of reading, some say):

We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,” Ms. Le Guin wrote in an email. “Governments use censorship for moral and political ends, justifiable or not. Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable.”

This particular iteration of writing about authors publicly coming out against Amazon and joining Authors United concerns the big guns: i.e., the very successful authors (like Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie), people who could be remembered in 100 years, who are all represented by Andrew Wylie. Never one to mince his words, Wylie also had some strong invective against this case: “If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.” Wylie is encouraging his slate — 1000 authors, including the estates of various late literary lions from John Cheever to Saul Bellow — to sign on with Authors Unlimited.

So far, however, this is just an addition of more energy to the anti-Amazon side. Publishing and Amazon still remain at an impasse. Authors United is writing to Amazon’s board and the Justice Department, and regarding the latter, they’re trying to bring up anti-trust laws against Amazon. Perhaps the addition of some prominent literary voices will give Authors United heft in this case. We can only hope.