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Amazon offers authors e-book proceeds as Hachette fight drags on

Visitors walk through the Hachette Book Group exhibition

Visitors walk through the Hachette Book Group exhibition at BookExpo America on May 29, 2014, in Manhattan. The company has been feuding with Amazon over e-book revenue. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan is offering authors caught up in its dispute with Hachette Book Group all of the proceeds from the sale of any digital book, seeking to bypass the publisher and appeal directly to the writers.

Amazon sent a letter to writers including Douglas Preston, proposing to take them out of the middle of the spat by giving them all of any e-book revenue, Preston said in an interview. Preston, co-author of the Pendergast series of books, had led an effort to rally authors and readers to petition Amazon to end the dispute.

The world's largest online retailer blocked preorders for some of Hachette's books earlier this year, including "The Silkworm," a new novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Amazon and Hachette are each seeking a greater share of e-book income.

While physical book sales in the United States are projected to fall to $19.5 billion this year from $26 billion in 2010, e-book revenue is anticipated to jump more than eightfold to $8.7 billion, according to Forrester Research. The growth is being spurred by the increasing consumer use of tablets and smartphones, through which people read e-books.

"Hachette would never accept something like this," Preston said of Amazon's proposal. "Amazon paying us money directly for the sale of e-books would violate our contracts with our publisher. It seems like a negotiating ploy rather than a serious attempt to bring the two sides together."

Sophie Cottrell, a spokeswoman for Hachette, didn't respond to requests for comment. Sarah Gelman, a spokeswoman for Amazon, declined to comment.

Seattle-based Amazon dominates e-book sales with 60 percent of the market, according to Forrester. The company also helped pioneer the e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle e-reading device in 2007.

Amazon's offer to writers was reported earlier Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

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