ASJA Slams Amazon for Gouging Independent Publishers and Authors; Announces 37TH ANNUAL WRITERS CONFERENCE

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the nation's trade association for freelance nonfiction writers, has spoken out and is "disgusted" with Amazon's announced move requiring that all print-on-demand (POD) books sold on Amazon's site be printed by their own print-on-demand house, BookSurge.

As of April 1, Amazon is requiring small publishers to sign a contract agreeing to such demands.

At first, Amazon representatives denied they were threatening small booksellers with having the "buy it" buttons for their books turned off if they didn't sign on the dotted line. Later Amazon admitted the move, as reported in Writer's Weekly and The Wall Street Journal. The contract being offered to print-on-demand publishers, which ASJA officers have seen, also includes a confidentiality clause forbidding disclosure of not just specific contract terms, as is typical, but any discussion at all. Thus, small publishers who have signed the contract may not say so, much less reveal the pressure they were under.

In addition, Amazon is punishing publishers who sell their books at a discount from cover price directly on their publisher’s websites. It is taking that discounted price as the book's "cover price" and then applying their own discounts accordingly.

"We applauded when Jeff Bezos and Amazon gave small publishers and even writers who self-published a way to get their books before the public," observed ASJA President Russell Wild. "With these grabby, strong-arm tactics, Amazon negates all that -- and the years of goodwill it has built up with writers, who ultimately will bear the brunt of any price increases in the printing of independently published books."

ASJA joins PMA, the independent book publishers association, which also has spoken out against Amazon's move to forcibly get business for its own BookSurge subsidiary. The writer's group also will urge the Washington state attorney general's office to investigate whether Amazon's move constitutes restraint of trade or otherwise violates anti-trust laws.

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The American Society of Journalists and Authors also announces its 37th Annual Writers Conference, to be held in New York City, April 12-13. Registration is now open for the public. The event will offer a wide assortment of panel sessions and workshops designed to appeal to both new and experienced nonfiction writers.

The 17 panel sessions and workshops will cover a range of topics, including environmental, investigative and medical journalism; biographical, humor, essay and opinion writing; strategies on finding an agent; how to make money from blogging; and even techniques for achieving a six-figure income as a freelance writer. Three of the panel sessions will feature editors or agents who will give immediate feedback on story or book ideas offered by attendees.

Along with the panels and workshops, aspiring writers can sign up for a 30-minute consultation through the ASJA Mentoring Program, and receive personalized guidance from an professional writer. This guidance alone can be worth the entire cost of admission for anyone looking to break into print.

Many of the nation's leading publications will be represented at the conference, including AARP The Magazine, Audubon, Self, Better Homes & Gardens, E! Magazine, USA Today, Family Circle, ESPN.com, New York Times Magazine, Salon.com, Outside, Redbook, ABC News Radio, Highlights for Children, Woman's Day and Wired.

ASJA, the nation's premier organization for freelance writers, was founded in 1948 and has a professional membership of more than 1200. To register or for more details, visit www.asjaconference.org or call 212 997 0947.

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