Monday, June 16, 2014

The Battle Between Hachette and Amazon

The battle continues between Amazon and Hachette over eBook pricing. This continues to have a ripple effect across the industry, and others are getting involved.

Independent booksellers have joined the battle, along with Hachette author Stephen Colbert, with a campaign against Amazon.

From The Guardian:

“Independent booksellers in America are weighing into the dispute between Amazon and Hachette with a series of banners telling potential customers "Thanks, Amazon, the indies will take it from here", while comedian and Hachette author Stephen Colbert is urging his viewers to plaster their books with "I didn't buy it on Amazon" stickers.

“The disagreement between the retail giant and the publisher, which is believed to be over terms, has been played out in public since early last month, and has seen Amazon.com delay delivery on more than 5,000 Hachette titles, according to the publisher, including books by Malcolm Gladwell, JD Salinger and James Patterson. It has also removed the possibility of pre-ordering books by authors including JK Rowling, whose forthcoming Robert Galbraith crime novel The Silkworm is not available on the site.”

Many titles have been removed or marked unavailable, both for order or pre-orders. The delays in ordering have affected both customers and authors alike.

From The Book Seller:

“Jeffery Deaver and James Patterson are among the authors affected by slow delivery times, and both have weighed in on their Facebook accounts.

“Patterson said: “Currently, Amazon is making it difficult to order many books from Little, Brown and Grand Central, which affects readers of authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Nicholas Sparks, Michael Connelly, me, and hundreds of others whose living depends on book sales. What I don’t understand about this particular battle tactic is how it is in the best interest of Amazon customers. It certainly doesn’t appear to be in the best interest of authors.”

Meanwhile, there are those who stand to benefit from the fracas.

From Barron’s:

“Amazon’s standoff with suppliers is an opportunity for Barnes & Noble. Currently, Amazon.com is not accepting orders for titles from Hachette authors, including J.K. Rowling and Michael Connelly, following continued disputes on e-book pricing. In addition, they are not accepting preorders for key Warner Bros. (TWX – $68.92 – NR) titles, such as The Lego Movie, in a separate supplier dispute. The standoffs highlight Barnes & Noble’s value to publishers, as it remains the only alternative book outlet to Amazon.com, and is critical in both the sale and marketing of their books.” - Maxim’s John Tinker and Kevin Rippey

Where do you stand on the Hachette-Amazon battle?

54 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

It seems to me that Amazon is only hurting themselves and their customers. If B&N steps up and treats the customers (and authors) right in this matter, they may get a lot of new and returning customers.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like Amazon is digging itself a big hole.

Jay Noel said...

I don't know...I think Amazon has been playing it pretty smart. It's PR letter that went out makes Hatchette look like the greedy ones.

It's a game of chess, really. To us independents, where would we be without Amazon? People like to villainize the 800 lb gorilla.

But obviously AMZ is throwing its weight around.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane .. I've no idea - but I'm very grateful to read authors/bloggers' comments and ideas on the subject - keeps me abreast of the action ...

Interesting ... and thanks for the post - cheers Hilary

Kelly Hashway said...

I just read an article that stated the fault was really with Hachette, not Amazon. Someone posted the link on FB, and I don't know it off hand. So I'm choosing not to take a side, because I really can't be sure what's going on. Really only Amazon and Hachette (and their lawyers of course) know the real story.

D.G. Hudson said...

J. Konrath has weighed in on this as well from the POV of those who are okay with Amazon. He shows their arguments and his own on his site.

I like watching from the sides to see how this plays out. Authors want more money, yes, but readers want more books. A conundrum. . .

Who gives more exposure to the greater number of writers? Who has gatekeepers? There are many sides to this debate. Interesting, L. Diane.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I don't completely understand both sides of this but I'm pretty sure the bottom line is that Hachette wants to make more money from their books than Amazon's terms will allow. Amazon can be a bully but neither them nor Hachette care about readers or authors except how much money they make off of them.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm not sure as I haven't had time to really read up on it. I did see an article in the paper that made it sound like there's another side to this story. Sorry I can't remember what it said.

Hart Johnson said...

This is such a complicated, waffly thing, isn't it? In theory, of course I support anybody trying to hold back the power of the giant beastie, but the reality is, those of us with self-published titles just can't afford to shun Amazon. I don't like their tactics, but the other moderate sized companies don't sell as many indies, and independent book stores snub anything that isn't through a publisher unless there is a 'home town' story to go with it, and even then, it is no sure thing and the footwork is huge.

cleemckenzie said...

I keep reading that this is a battle between old and new ways of managing things in this business. My bet is on Amazon.

Robin said...

I am not familiar with this one. So I don't know the sticking points of the problem. I suspect that this is an inevitable conflict as the nature of selling books changes (into the e-book format) and like cleemckenzie stated above... Amazon will likely win this one.

Ellie Garratt said...

I must admit I'm a little confused by it all, but I think it's a battle in which no one will win. I also think it's easy to make the Amazon the bad guys in all of this. They are a business and a business exist to make money. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Ellie Garratt said...

I must admit I'm a little confused by it all, but I think it's a battle in which no one will win. I also think it's easy to make the Amazon the bad guys in all of this. They are a business and a business exist to make money. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Annalisa Crawford said...

It'll be interesting if other players step up and Amazon lose out. It seems like a bizarre business decision.

Carol Kilgore said...

There are two sides to this story, and I hope they reach an agreement soon. Hachette is the first major to have to tangle with Amazon since the court order on the Apple thingie. So it's apt to be long and drawn out.

Misha Gericke said...

I do find it disconcerting, and honestly it makes me wish big publishers would pull their heads from the sand, stand up and deliver a service.

Because right now, Amazon is starting to call the shots, and I'm not seeing how them doing so is good for authors.

However big publishers aren't all that good for authors either at the moment, because they're taking too much and not delivering enough.

Medeia Sharif said...

For awhile I've checked out titles from big companies, and they'd be temporarily unavailable on amazon. I've tried to understand both sides since then. Publishing sure is undergoing big changes.

J E Oneil said...

I know we're not seeing all the information about it, but Amazon refusing to list some authors because of a dispute with their publisher is nothing but bullying. Even if the blame is entirely with Hachette, it's not right to punish the authors who have no say over what the publisher does. If they complain, do you think Hachette is going to care? No. Losing money will bother them, but they can deal with it the loss a lot better than the writers can.

Amazon should be choosing a way to get their point across that isn't pure jerkery.

Loni Townsend said...

I'm with Kelly about not choosing sides. Here's a Salon article with Neil Gaiman talking about his experiences. That's where it mentions the delayed delivery was Hachette playing hardball.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jay, even an 800 pd gorilla needs a little humility now and then.

Susan, you said it best.

Carol, not sure where this one will end, but Apple got shafted on that deal.

Misha, I don't see how it's good for authors either.

JE, well said.

Deirdra said...


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Donna Hosie said...

No winners here. It's a sad situation.

Lynda R Young said...

It's an interesting business strategy on Amazon's part. I'm curious to see how it all plays out.

J.L. Campbell said...

Like a lot of others, I'm watching how this will go. I don't see that anybody really wins in a situation like this.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Obviously their customers mean nothing to them. :(

Karen Lange said...

It doesn't sound like this is the smartest move Amazon could make. But I guess we'll see, right?

Donna Hole said...

I suppose eventually there will be other distributors for competition. Conglomerates always inspire change.

Rhonda Albom said...

This is all new and confusing to me. It doesn't sound like Amazon is doing to good for itself.

Melanie Schulz said...

This is yet another change in the rapidly altering publishing world. I know I personally am watching this closely.

Jo said...

Customer suffers in the end as well as the authors, big or small.

shelly said...

Oh brother...

Cherie Reich said...

Hmm, I'm not really sure how I feel about all of this. I do feel bad for the authors stuck in the middle of this entire mess. To me, they're the only ones losing from the battle. Customers will move on to the next book they can get or go to another place to get the book they want. Eventually Hachette will cave just like other publishers have before to Amazon. After all, it's not the first time Amazon has played hardball and won and it won't be the last.

David P. King said...

Apparently Amazon is disputing WB also, hence I wasn't able to pre-order The Lego Movie. Their loss. Costco had it cheaper anyway.

Until Amazon plays nice, I'm not linking their site on my posts. :)

Johanna Garth said...

I'm a firm believer that monopoly is never in the best interest of consumer or artist. This is why we have antitrust laws!

Johanna Garth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M Pax said...

I don't know enough about it to have an opinion. I've read other people's opinions.

I'd like to see someone step up and give Amazon competition, but don't think any of the other retailers have the sites and analytics to match the Zon.

Al Diaz said...

I have only bought books from Amazon so I can't give an opinion. However I've heard many authors complaining about Amazon so I guess other options would be good.

Tara Tyler R said...

sounds like amazon is being a bully, again.
i wish there were more options. i will start buying more books for my ipad nook... and i like print copies better anyway. from bookstores!

Michelle Wallace said...

Well, I was in the dark about all of this. But your post and the comment thread has shed some light.
Quite the dilemma.

Nicki Elson said...

It will be interesting to see if Barnes & Noble is nimble enough to take advantage of this situation.

It's hard to have an opinion without having all the details out there. But on a different note, I like Hart's comment about indie bookstores snubbing indie authors - they're totally snobbish, at least in these parts, which seems really backwards to me. As much as Amazon is percieved as a big bully, they've also provided great opportunities for indie authors.

Carol Riggs said...

I think Amazon needs to chill. They're already garnering a BIG chunk of the online book market, and they don't need to resort to these kinds of tactics to make more money. They're just alienating themselves and driving business AWAY from them.

Ella said...

I do wonder if greed could be Amazon's Achilles' heel.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Cherie, it won't be the last battle.

David, that's interesting you couldn't get it.

Nicki, in our area, Raleigh has all those snobby indie book stores.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

After reading this, I am kind of conflicted but I do think that Amazon is hurting themselves here. But what do I know, I'm a Virgo!

Chrys Fey said...

Interesting post, but I'm not going to take a side in this battle because I don't feel we know everything that's happening. I'll be paying close attention to this though since my small press uses Amazon to sell our eBooks.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I appreciate what Amazon has done, but I think its views toward successful authors is peculiar. Perhaps it is true that one can get a bit too big for their breeches.

Beth Ellyn Summer said...

hate situations like this. Someone always loses. Very interesting to see Colbert using his influence for the book world though!

Southpaw said...

Since the details are still private how can I (or anyone) truly make an honest judgement. I just hope they work things out soon.

Shah Wharton said...

I don't see any comment here by Amazon about why they're doing this? I also have too little information to make a full and rounded decision on he matter. I know I have been treated well by Amazon and have enjoyed great service form the for years. But I'm not a big bucks publisher, so... Who knows? :)

shahwharton.com

Kimberly said...

I've heard that no one knows exactly what the issue is between the two - so I guess I reserve judgement until I know what it is. It's too bad they can't come to an agreement though for the authors and their readers.

Milo James Fowler said...

We lost our B&N down the street, so they didn't benefit from this hullabaloo. As a company though, I hope B&N can capitalize on it. I enjoy using Amazon, but I don't like the idea of them cornering the market.

Donna McDine said...

Frustrating to say the least. As authors it's our goal to get our books into the hands of readers, not to get caught in the crossfire of corporate America wars!

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks for all this information, Diane. I would like to see it help out B & N. We don't need anyone else to go down!

Mary Montague Sikes

Sarah E. Albom said...

Just like chain stores- come in and take over.