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Letter from Jeff Bezos to Used Booksellers in Response to the Authors Guild Statement

I'm writing on behalf of Amazon.com to request your help with something I think is important to the used book industry.

As you may have read in the newspapers over the past few days, we've been criticized by the leadership of a small, but vocal organization because we sell used books on our website. This group (which, by the way, is the same organization that from time to time has advocated charging public libraries royalties on books they loan out) claims that we're damaging the book industry and authors by offering used books to our customers. They would have us stop offering used books, or at least put them in a separate section of our store instead of on our high traffic detail pages.

First, their assertion that used books hurt the book industry and authors is not correct. We've found that our used books business does not take business away from the sale of new books. In fact, the opposite has happened. Offering customers a lower-priced option causes them to visit our site more frequently, which in turn leads to higher sales of new books while encouraging customers to try authors and genres they may not have otherwise tried. In addition, when a customer sells used books, it gives them a budget to buy more new books.

Second, and perhaps more disturbing, is the implication that used booksellers don't care about authors. I'm sure this bothers you as well, but let me be super-clear-- Amazon.com is now, and has always been, supportive of and good for authors. We do care about authors, and the way we have operated our business demonstrates it. From the start, we've carried a broader selection of titles and authors than anyone else, and we've expanded that selection through the years via Amazon.com Advantage, a program that's introduced customers to thousands of independent publishers and authors. We've also helped authors by discounting hundreds of thousands of titles by 30% (rather than only discounting a select handful of New York Times Bestsellers).

Third, when someone buys a book, they are also buying the right to resell that book, to loan it out, or to even give it away if they want. Everyone understands this.

Finally, and most importantly, offering used books is simply good for customers. It makes out-of-print books available and other books more affordable. Making books affordable is a fundamental good (as are libraries). This is why we've worked so hard (with used booksellers like you) to offer customers a huge selection of used books-- and our customers have voted with their wallets that they find this service valuable. Why would any company that cares about customers bury or hide a service that customers find valuable?

Here's where you can help. Please write an email to the Executive Director of the Authors Guild (the leadership of which orchestrated this campaign) explaining how the sale of used books actually helps the entire book industry. Of course, a polite and civil tone is appropriate-- these are good people who haven't had input on all sides of this issue. You may agree with the points above, or you may have your own reasons, but please share them with the Authors Guild. If you make a living from selling used books, please mention that too. You can email the Authors Guild's Executive Director, Paul Aiken, at:

staff@authorsguild.org

(Please "cc" us at defend-used-books@amazon.com.)

Thanks for all your support and we look forward to continuing to work with you to bring lower prices and better selection to our customers.

Sincerely

Jeff Bezos Founder and CEO Amazon.com
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