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New York (AFP) — More than 900 authors have signed a letter urging U.S. online giant Amazon to end its simmering dispute with publishing group Hachette over book pricing.

The open letter circulated by bestselling author Douglas Preston that blames Amazon for the standoff is also due to appear in a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times.

The authors said they were “not taking sides” in a contract dispute but that Amazon should not take actions that hurt authors, such as boycotting Hachette authors, slowing delivery, or refraining from discounts.

“We call on Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without further hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers,” said the letter, circulating since July.

Among those signing are top-name authors John Grisham, Stephen King, David Baldacci, Michael Chabon, Suzanne Collins, Michael Lewis, Jeffery Deaver, Anna Quindlen, Nora Roberts, and Scott Turow.

Amazon has drawn fire for its tactics, such as discouraging customers from buying books by Hachette authors and suggesting that readers might enjoy a book from another writer instead.

Amazon last month attempted to shift the blame to Hachette, saying the publisher is opposing lower e-book prices.

Amazon said its proposal to Hachette is to give 35 percent of e-book revenue to authors, another 35 percent to the publisher, and then keep the remaining 30 percent as its share.

“The way this would actually work is that we would send 70 percent of the total revenue to Hachette, and they would decide how much to share with the author,” Amazon said in a blog post.

“We believe Hachette is sharing too small a portion with the author today, but ultimately that is not our call.”

Amazon has maintained that it is seeking to push prices lower for consumers, and that the standoff with Hachette affects only a small percentage of sales.

Amazon has a reputation for negotiating hard to push down prices for the goods it sells online.

Hachette Book Group is a subsidiary of French company Lagardere.

AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand

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