Home » Big Publishing » A List of Things Scott Turow Doesn’t Care About

A List of Things Scott Turow Doesn’t Care About

10 April 2013

As usual, some interesting observations from David Gaughran:

Scott Turow woke up from his slumber recently to bark nonsense about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads on the Authors Guild blog, before being thoroughly eviscerated in the comments.

Undeterred, Turow sought out the considerably larger platform of the New York Times’ Op-Ed pages on Monday to decry The Slow Death of the American Writer.

On reading the latter, my first thought was: if Scott Turow didn’t spend so much time hating Amazon and pretending self-publishing didn’t exist, maybe he wouldn’t be so depressed.

. . . .

What bothers me about Turow’s obsession with Amazon and his opposition to change is not his blatant disregard for the facts (or the definition of words), it’s that he allows this Luddism to become all-consuming, blinding him to the issues that really matter to writers.

. . . .


When rumors first broke that the Department of Justice was investigating collusion to fix prices between five of the six largest trade publishers in the US (Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette) and Apple, Scott Turow called for the investigation to be dropped.

He didn’t even want to find out if price-fixing was taking place. Turow, a practicing lawyer, didn’t want to know if federal law was being broken.

When the DOJ determined that collusion to fix prices had indeed taken place, and reached a settlement with three of the five publishers (the other two would settle in time), Turow opposed the settlement.

. . . .

Penguin’s purchase of Author Solutions

Penguin purchased Author Solutions – the largest and most reviled vanity press in the world – in August last year for $116m. Scott Turow and the Authors Guild have been completely silent on the fact that Penguin is now in the business of scamming inexperienced authors.

. . . .

Those are just the biggest stories that have happened recently, and I could easily have mentioned publishers forcing increasingly onerous contract terms on writers (and being disingenuous about what they mean), agents doing the same with representation agreements, publishers grabbing rights they never paid for, and agents moving into publishing (some of whom are aping the worst contract terms from large publishers) – all of which Scott Turow and the Authors Guild have been silent on.

. . . .

Scott Turow is clearly too afraid of change to keep up with the latest developments. His New York Times piece demonstrates that he’s unaware of this new thing called self-publishing – which is enabling thousands of writers to pay bills and make a living from writing, in many cases for the very first time, thanks in no small part to Amazon.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital

Big Publishing

27 Comments to “A List of Things Scott Turow Doesn’t Care About”

  1. “Scott Turow woke up from his slumber recently to bark nonsense about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads on the Authors Guild blog, before being thoroughly eviscerated in the comments.”


    I often wonder, if, by highlighting and commenting on the words of those we utterly disagree with, such as Mr Turow, we give extra publicity to their cause?

    I happen to think that he’s a bonehead, wrong, and rather improperly attempting to shore up the position of publishing and writers as it once was and is now not. That ship has sailed.

    He is being hoist by his own petard and the multiple C4 laid by the rest of the self publishing sappers will make mince-meat of the rest of the bridge he’s standing on.

    So are we slagging him off to purpose, or just for fun because he’s an easy target?

    Not written in a negative way, I’m honestly a little confused. (Nothing new there:)


    • There’s no doubting he’s an easy target, Brendan.

      However, the tastemakers who edit the New York Times op-ed page have a much bigger megaphone than The Passive Voice and some people still believe everything they read in the NYT.

      • P.G.

        10/4 Commodore.

        Locked and loaded:)


        • Case in point. A half dozen of my friends linked to Turrow’s NYT editorial on their own facebook pages, usually with comment like “Oh this is terrible! I must go buy a hardcover book right now!”

          Only one of my friends linked to PG’s page on his facebook.

          I tried to steer my smart friends to more credible sources, but it’s a giant game of whack-a-mole, you know?

    • Brendan, if Turrow were just one scared old white guy spouting his nonsense, it might be kinder (and more constructively time-saving) to ignore him.

      But the platform under him is that he’s the president of the biggest organizing in the country for writers of books. On =that= basis, it’s imperative to point out how fact-free, short-sighted, misinformed, and erroneous his comments and positions are.

      He was not, after all, writing to the DoJ as some obscure loon when he claimed that collusive price-fixing and antitrust violations were “good” for writers. He was saying that AS PRESIDENT OF THE AUTHORS GUILD–aiyeeeee!

      • “On =that= basis, it’s imperative to point out how fact-free, short-sighted, misinformed, and erroneous his comments and positions are.”


        Excellent, thank you.

        I do have my own opinions and ideas about things, but having it laid out as you just did is very helpful.



  2. Wow, this is fantastic.

    Aside from the on-target critique, the calling to the carpet a ‘leader’ who is not leading, David does some real-life digging and investigative reporting.

    Who is this Paul Aiken? The one who actually writes the articles for Turow, who gets 180,000 annually from the Author’s Guild and has been the Executive Director since 1996 – and yet there is not even a bio for him???

    Just what pocket is this guy in? And given Turow’s forethinking comments a few years ago that David quotes, is Turow involved in a complicated game?

    This is REALLY interesting.

    Awesome job, David!

    • For the record, I don’t think there’s evidence of anything shady. I just think the Authors Guild members deserve better from someone (Aiken) being paid so handsomely.

      • There’s no evidence, David, but it raises some really interesting questions.

        Who knows? Maybe you uncovered something here. Maybe he’s secretly on Random House’s payroll, and someday you’ll write a book about how you discovered it! 😉

      • I’ve dealt with some Author’s Guild business on occasion over the years, and my general impression of Aiken has been pretty consistent–and was reenforced by his public stance last year for the AG in favor of collusive price-fixing and in opposition to enforcing federal law. That is to say, my consistent impression has been that he works hard and is businesslike, but that he has poor judgment.

    • P.G., I seem to recall seeing a directory of all practicing lawyers years ago, which provides a brief resume of their careers.

      Does this resource actually exist in the form I remember, & if so would you have access to it? It might fill in the “lost years” of this Paul Aiken & explain how he got to be their general counsel & operating officer. (Neither Turow nor Judy Blume seem to have much clout there, despite being president & vice-president.)

  3. More great stuff from David Gaughran. It sounds like David has a new book for indie writers on the way, too. I can’t wait to see what he’s got to follow up Let’s Get Digital.

  4. From a comment I left there, just for fun:

    “That being said, especially in the science-fiction genre, I think that an author’s guild which bars indiepubs will soon find itself quite like the mafia guys in “Ghost Dog” – a collection of tooth-sucking elders sitting around recalling mostly-imagined glory and wondering why the young people are so disrespectful nowadays.”

    Now I have a vision of Scott Turow talking to Paul Aiken:

    Turow: You know, Paulie, there’s one good thing about this Bezos guy.

    Aiken: What’s that, Scottie?

    Turow: He’s sending us out the old way. Like real f***ing gangsters.

  5. Bloody marvellous piece by David.

    [Traditional] Authors should be running to the AG exit.

  6. Scott Turow also has a new release coming out soon. Coincidence?

  7. What does an annual AG membership cost?

  8. OK, I’m getting in late here but to me the best avenue to start to get more info would be (as quoted from)

    Aiken testified before the White House Task Force on Copyright and the Internet, participated in the Conference on Fair Use and, in the past year, testified on the topic of fair use before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and on the need for a small claims court for copyright infringement before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

    This would, at least give some indication of where he seems to be coming from. I’ll note that this article is 4yrs old & the maybe more easily found info now.


  9. AG doesnt bar indie pubs. It offers regular membership according to their website, for self-published authors making 5k in previous 18 months. On another practical note, as I understand it , many authors who are members are so, to take advantage of free legal advice and free contract review and legal interventions of various sorts with publishers for the $90 a year membership. There’s also a donation founding AG is affiliated with that donates I think to longtime fund that helps authors who are sick, facing challenges as a result of disasters like hurricanes and fires, and who are elderly and in need in some way, etc. I think google AG foundation, perhaps.

    • Holy catfish, I qualify! O_O

      Mind, Feb was awful for sales, and if I joined, it’d only be a waste of my time (and annoy…AHEM!), so I don’t think I’m going to. But.

      The fund is nice, at least.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.