View 832 Monday, July 07, 2014
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
The President of Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) has spoken regarding the SFWA position on the Amazon/Hachette dispute. (See yesterday’s View.)
It hasn’t appeared in public yet so I won’t quote it, but it is a public announcement intended to be read by everyone, so eventually you’ll see it.
My first impression brings to mind the word stonewalling. Far from apologizing for giving an incorrect impress, it asserts that SFWA did nothing wrong and is only supporting authors who have been harmed by Amazon’s tactics. And it informs us that SFWA did not call for a boycott of Amazon. It doesn’t say “not yet”, and perhaps it was not intended as a veiled threat, but why else would one bring that up? Of course a moment’s thought would tell you that a command for a boycott of Amazon is not going to happen unless the President and Board are all suffering from hypoxia (hard to do since they meet Skypishly, not in the same room), but again the question arises, why bring it up at all in a public message?
Mystery upon mystery. It is like watching an episode of Doc Martin, only in this episode Dr. Martin and all his friends have been subjected to nitrous oxide.
I can now reprint this morning’s SFWA release re: the Amazon/Hachette fracas and SFWA’s endorsement of the petition:
SFWA’s support of Douglas Preston’s open letter reflects our concern about Amazon’s tactics in their dispute with Hachette and the way those tactics are impacting writers and their careers. We are, unfortunately, aware that this is not the first time Amazon has used negotiating tactics that have injured writers. To be clear, we are doing this in support of writers (members and otherwise) not, as some have suggested, to support Hachette Book Group and “Big” publishing over self-published and small press authors.
SFWA is a _writers_ organization and we have fought against practices that harm writers, no matter what the source, including “Big” publishing, scam agents, vanity presses, etc. If we are unwilling to weigh in on behalf of traditionally-published authors in disputes with online distributors like Amazon, Nook, and Kobo, what chance do we have of supporting other writers in the same arena?
Even as we are signing on to Mr. Preston’s letter, we have not called for boycotts of Amazon, we have not called for members to stop publishing with Amazon, and we have left our Amazon links up on the SFWA website. We recognize that suppliers and distributors negotiate the terms of their relationship but we hope that both parties can conduct this business in ways that do not punish _the very people who provide the products they both sell._ This is not about a conflict between traditional and independent models of publishing and efforts to frame it as such do more to harm than help the lives of _all_ working writers.
For the Board
As I said, stonewalling, or doubling down, do not seem to be inappropriate words. To the best of my knowledge no further explanations from the SFWA officers is forthcoming.
The situation in Ukraine grinds on. The Ukraine forces appear to be regaining control over their eastern territories, and the Russians are not intervening to prevent that. I cannot believe that President Putin has renounced his claims to the Russian speaking Russians in Ukraine, so what is his strategy? I had thought he would have the pro-Russian rebels fall back and consolidate, then offer some kind of deal in which there comes to exist an autonomous region still part of Ukraine but friendly to Russia. That may yet be the goal. We can only watch and wait. There is still fighting going on, but so far it’s not city-leveling destruction.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.