A huge list of prominent authors have signed their names to an open letter encouraging their readers to email Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to ask him to resolve the retailer's dispute with publisher Hachette without "inconveniencing or misleading its own customers."

Amazon is involved in a dispute with Hachette, which owns Little Brown, Grand Central Publishing and other famous publishing imprints. 

Bestselling author Douglas Preston began quietly circulating the letter to other writers a few weeks back after he says Amazon made the unusual move of directly targeting Hachette authors instead of resolving the deal in "a corporate back room."

Preston told Publishers Weekly he initially expected about a dozen authors to sign the letter, but instead ended up with nearly 300 signatures, including Robert Caro, Lee Child, John Grisham, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, David Baldacci, Susan Cheever, Lincoln Child, Clive Cussler, Scott Turow, Rachel Urquhart and Stacy Schiff

The letter, which is available here with the full list of authors, says it will be published in the New York Times along with the signatures once it is complete. 

According to the letter, Amazon has been boycotting Hachette authors by refusing to accept pre-orders, claiming books are "unavailable" when they are in stock, purposely slowing delivery to several weeks and refusing to discount books by Hachette authors. 

"As writers—some but not all published by Hachette—we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from  ordering or receiving the books they want. It is not right for Amazon to single out a group  of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation," the letter states.

In opposition to Preston's efforts, a petition supporting Amazon titled "Stop fighting low prices and fair wages" has appeared on Change.org with signatures from a number of top-selling, self-published authors including Hugh Howey (Wool) and Barry Eisler (Fault Line). 

"Amazon wants to keep e-book prices affordable, and Hachette wants to keep them artificially high. Higher than for the paper edition of the same story," the text of that petition reads. 

[via Publishers Weekly]