Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - This undated file photo shows writer George Orwell, author of "1984." The literary executor of George Orwell’s estate is accusing Amazon.com of quoting Orwell out of context. In a letter published this week in The New York Times, Bill Hamilton criticized Amazon for “turning the facts inside out” by alleging that Orwell had urged publishers in the 1930s to jointly oppose paperbacks. The retailer cited an Orwell essay in which he wrote that “if publishers had any sense,” they would “combine against” and “suppress” paperbacks. Amazon and Hachette Book Group have been locked in a nasty standoff over terms for e-book sales. (AP Photo, File)
Orwell rep accuses Amazon of doublespeak
Publishing » Late author’s rep claims Amazon’s tactics are right out of the dystopic ‘1984.’
First Published Aug 14 2014 03:11 pm • Last Updated Aug 14 2014 04:07 pm

New York • The literary executor of George Orwell’s estate is accusing Amazon.com of committing an Orwellian crime: doublespeak.

In a letter published this week in The New York Times, Bill Hamilton criticized the online retailer for "turning the facts inside out" by alleging that the British author known for the novels "1984" and "Animal Farm" had urged publishers in the 1930s to join together and stop the rise of paperbacks.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"I’m both appalled and wryly amused that Amazon’s tactics should come straight out of Orwell’s own nightmare dystopia, ‘1984,’" Hamilton wrote.

Amazon and Hachette Book Group have been locked in a nasty standoff over terms for e-book sales, with Amazon removing pre-order buttons, reducing discounts and slowing deliveries for many Hachette releases. Amazon has defended its actions, saying that it is fighting to keep e-book prices low, ideally around $9.99 for new releases, a rate Hachette and other publishers fear is unsustainable.

In a message posted last week on its website, Amazon likened publishers’ objections to concerns about paperbacks in the 1930s. The retailer cited a 1936 Orwell essay in which he wrote of paperbacks that if "publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them."

Amazon stated "George Orwell was suggesting collusion," a reference to the 2012 government lawsuit alleging that Apple and five publishers, including Hachette, had conspired to raise e-book prices. All five publishers settled out of court and a federal judge in 2013 ruled against Apple.

But Hamilton and others say that Amazon quoted Orwell out of context, and that his words were meant ironically. Orwell had been praising some new releases from Penguin, which had recently launched its now-famous line of paperbacks.

"The Penguin Books are splendid value for sixpence, so splendid that if the other publishers had any sense they would combine against them and suppress them," Orwell wrote.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.