Like 900 of their American counterparts, 1,000 authors in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have signed an open letter to Amazon arguing for fair treatment of all publishers' e-books. The European authors are concerned over actions Amazon has taken against books published by the Bonnier Group.
The New York Times reported that the letter reads, "Amazon's customers have, until now, had the impression that these lists are not manipulated and they could trust Amazon. Apparently that is not the case. ... Amazon manipulates recommendation lists. Amazon uses authors and their books as a bargaining chip to exact deeper [e-book] discounts."
The letter appeared in German, Austrian and Swiss publications on Monday.
Authors who signed the letter include Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek from Austria and German crime writers Ingrid Noll and Nele Neuhaus.
The New York Times reports that European authors had previously been quiet about Amazon's actions because their publishers "did not wish to complicate already strained negotiations" with the online retailer.
Further negotiations between Amazon and European publishers are expected to take place during the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair, which is set to begin Oct. 8.
The Sweden-based Bonnier Group has been the target of punitive actions by Amazon similar to those employed against American publisher Hachette. According to the letter, Bonnier Group books are falsely said to be unavailable, are subject to shipping delays and have been removed from recommended reading lists.
A clash of cultures is part of the European authors' concern. "Unfortunately, the American company refuses to accept our traditional cultural values, because it only thinks in purely economic terms," Noll told the New York Times. "We have to stand together and defend our values."
In Germany and Austria, there are laws forbidding deep book discounts. "Many authors fear Amazon will use its dominant position to seek to overturn these laws," the New York Times reported.