Friday, September 4, 2009

10 memorable quotes uttered by Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild

Considering the war of words and legal documents that has erupted in the past few days over the proposed $125 million Google Book Search settlement, I thought it might be refreshing to re-read some of the more memorable quotes that attorney Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, has uttered over about the last decade.

1. "It's as if the New York Yankees were sold. We're losing one of the major players at a time when there's been a great deal of concern about consolidation and fear of book contract cancellations. Our fear is that with this sort of situation they're going to look for efficiencies and some ways to cut costs." -- Paul Aiken in response to German media conglomerate Bertelsmann A.G.’s $1.4 billion agreement to buy the crown jewel of American publishing, Random House. The New York Times, March 24, 1998

2. "If I were an independent bookseller, I would be scared to death by this. The Godzilla of publishing is wedding the King Kong of distribution. These are the two huge players in the field, and from an author's concern, the independent bookstores have been our strongest allies for the barely known author.” -- Paul Aiken in response to an announcement by Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest bookseller, that it was purchasing the leading wholesaler, Ingram Book Group, for $600 million. The New York Times, November 7, 1998

3. "Everyone knew what a book was when these contracts were signed -- volumes printed on paper - and this is nothing more than a bold and baseless retroactive rights grab." -- Paul Aiken in response to news that Random House filed a lawsuit against RosettaBooks over who owned the rights to sell digital versions of previously published books. The New York Times, February 28, 2001

4. "We think it's not good for the industry and it has an effect, but we can't measure it. There has always been used-book sales, but it's always been a background noise sort of thing. Now it's right there next to the new book on Amazon." -- Paul Aiken in response to concern that authors were not getting royalty fees on used books sold through The New York Times, July 12, 2004

5. "We've never heard of anything like this. It really undermines the author's credibility and authority even if it's mostly inconsequential details. It's like putting a negative book review on the cover." -- Paul Aiken in response to a rare compromise in the publishing industry that allowed the heirs of world-renowned psychologist C. G. Jung to insert two pages of material into a biography of Jung. The New York Times, August 3, 2005

6. “Authors were horrified by these ads. And doubly horrified that they weren’t paid for them.” -- Paul Aiken, recalling paperback books that were laced with cigarette advertisements in the 1960s and 1970s. The New York Times, December 2, 2007

7. "Hollywood deals are a trap for the unwary; they're almost intended to deceive. The best advice we give is that you should try to get as much of your money upfront. You can't count on net profit deals for anything." -- Paul Aiken in response to "Hollywood accounting." Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2008

8. "The buy button is their weapon of choice and that's how they impose market discipline. This is such a clear indication that once they have the clout they are willing to use it to the full extent that they can. It's ugly with Amazon and will probably get uglier." -- Paul Aiken in response to the "buy now with 1 click" icon it installed on its British website. The New York Times June 16, 2008

9. "They don't have the right to read a book out loud. That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law." -- Paul Aiken in response to the text-to-speech feature in Amazon's Kindle 2 e-book reader. The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2009

10. "(laughs) The Authors Guild has never had any objections to reading books out loud to your kids! In fact, I do it every night myself." -- Paul Aiken in response to a question about whether the Authors Guild had any objection to people purchasing a book and reading it out loud to their kids., February 27, 2009

Note that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America opposes the proposed $125 million Google Book Search settlement and has joined the Open Book Alliance.

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