Open letter to author Ursula K. LeGuin

Most modern readers only know Ursula K. LeGuin for her Earthsea trilogy, but some of us were touched, and forever changed, by her science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness.

It was, and is, one of the best examples of ‘social science fiction’ ever written. It also happens to be a literary work that defeats many science fiction readers. Thus, although it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970 [science fiction’s equivalent of a Pulitzer], the novel did not become a bestseller. Perhaps that fact was preying on Ms LeGuin’s mind when she recently wrote an article about Amazon entitled:

Up the Amazon with the BS Machine,
Why I keep Asking You Not to Buy Books from Amazon

by Ursula K. Le Guin

You can find the complete article here:

For the record, I have loved Ursula K. LeGuin’s work since my early twenties. That’s close enough to 40 years. But whilst I still adore her writing, I’m saddened by her dislike of Amazon, especially as I do not understand it. Most of the criticisms she raises against Amazon in that article have nothing to do with Amazon at all. They would be better directed against the traditional publishing industry that has not supported her, perhaps because she was not a BS [best-selling] author.

I read the article on the Passive Guy’s blog and felt compelled to comment:

Passive Guy ursula leguin comment

With much love and respect,

Andrea [Meeka] Flory


About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

12 responses to “Open letter to author Ursula K. LeGuin

  • diannegray

    I’ve read most of LeGuin’s books and really enjoyed them. You’ve now inspired me to get a copy of The Left Hand of Darkness. Heading over now to read her anti-Amazon article 😉


  • EllaDee

    I think e-publishing and marketing has made both sides of the readership coin more accessible. I too found on Amazon an old book I haven’t been able to in print, and also new authors who’d never have published, who I’d never had read otherwise.
    And the lament about market manipulation by publishers is not a new one, it transcends e-publishing. It’s always going to be the case. It happens everywhere… even at our bake-off fundraiser, vote buying is rife!


    • acflory

      lol – I remember when Amazon was still young and people said ‘how can it survive when it never makes a profit?’. Look at it now? There is a damn good reason it’s the biggest e-tailer, at least in the West. I think I read somewhere that Ali Baba is bigger because it serves the huge Asian market.
      But Amazon definitely isn’t the enemy to readers. 🙂


  • David Prosser

    A pity such an astounding author has such a narrow view of a bookseller that provides so many options of getting her books. Where else would customers be offered new versions for a variety of sources as well as used options via private sellers? If you’re missing the ebook Meeks than it means the author is missing an opportunity.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


  • John Guillen

    I read the article and all the comments. I’m with everyone. Her entire argument against Amazon isn’t even against Amazon. So dumb.


    • acflory

      I think the disconnect is because, best selling author or not, she is incredibly famous. As such I’m sure she receives a great deal of respect and admiration from her publisher, the kind of treatment that publishers once provided to their authors more generally.

      Cocooned from the world of mid-listers, I believe Ursula LeGuin has received… misinformation from those around her. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  • Candy Korman

    I’m with you. “Left Hand of Darkness” is one of my all-time favorites, but her thoughts on Amazon are from a limited point-of-view.


  • Carrie Rubin

    I think your comment was perfect. I’ll have to go check out the article. Amazon has definitely redefined the market, no doubt, but as you say, for some people, it’s their best means of getting inaccessible books.


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