They include some of the biggest literary names on the planet, among them Stephen King, Donna Tartt, Paul Auster, James Patterson and John Grisham; a Pulitzer prize winner in Jennifer Egan; and four from this year's Man Booker longlist, Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt and Joseph O'Neill. Then there are first-time writers, historians, biographers – all of them part of an unprecedented campaign against the world's biggest books retailer, Amazon. The writers have lent their name to a letter objecting to Amazon's tactics as it negotiates over ebooks with Hachette, the fourth largest publisher in the US. As the standoff continues, Amazon has been slowing down delivery of Hachette books, preventing pre-order and removing previous discounts. It is "thuggish behaviour", said the Maine-based thriller writer Douglas Preston.