Authors Guild Criticizes Amazon Lending Library

By Jason Boog Comment

The Authors Guild issued a stern statement about Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library today, concluding: “Under most (perhaps all) publishing contracts, a license to Amazon’s Lending Library is outside the bounds of the publisher’s licensing authority.”

Earlier this month, Amazon offered Amazon Prime members the option to borrow up to one digital book per month with no due date. The library includes 5,000 titles, ranging from three books by Michael Lewis to Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games trilogy to Sara Gruen‘s Water for Elephants.

The Guild recommended authors follow a few different steps if they find their work in Amazon’s new library without permission. We’ve reprinted the steps below…

The Authors Guild on “what to do if your book is in the program“:

“If your book is in the Lending Library without your approval, we recommend that you:

“1. Get in touch with your publisher (or ask your agent to do so) and say that you object to your book’s inclusion in the program without your approval and that you do not consent to have your work in any such initiatives without your prior authorization. This is fundamental.

“2. Ask your publisher why your book is in the program. The publisher may be using the program to introduce your books to Amazon Prime customers with the hope that they’ll then come back to buy your other titles. Other publishers may be seeking to give some life to quiescent titles. Once you’ve heard your publisher’s rationale (it may be well considered and in your favor), you’ll have to decide whether you’d like your book to remain in the program.

“If it’s a major publisher, however, you may learn that Amazon chose to include your work in its lending program over your publisher’s objections. If so, we expect that you will be compensated for the uses (Amazon is paying its regular wholesale price for the e-books from these publishers), but this may still not be in your best interests: Amazon, for its own reasons, has chosen to override your publisher’s marketing plan.

“No matter what you decide to do, please be in touch – one of our attorneys would be happy to discuss the matter with you.”