updated 01:27 pm EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Delays on Hachette titles turn into outright sales stops, other sellers affected
The escalating feud between ebook giant Amazon and publishing group Hachette continues go grow more public and ugly. Amazon has, until now, been quietly disrupting sales of book publisher Hachette's titles -- but over the last week, the e-retailer has flat-out refused orders for upcoming titles. A second publisher, Germany-based Bonnier, has been added to the fray as well, with the president of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association Alexander Skipis saying that Amazon is "using its dominant position in the market to blackmail the publishers" to sign more favorable deals.
Skipis said of Amazon's behavior that "of course it is very comfortable for customers to be able to order over the Internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But with such an online structure as pursued by Amazon, a book market is being destroyed that has been nurtured over decades and centuries."
Authors are also angered over the Amazon bullying. "Your actions to raise the prices of our books, place banners touting books that 'are similar but lower in price' and saying that our books will ship in 3-5 weeks when they are in stock is not only a disgusting negotiation practice, but it has made me tell my readers to shop elsewhere -- and they are and will," wrote Hachette children's author Nina Laden.
"We have been asked legitimate questions [by customers] about why many of our books are at present marked out of stock with relatively long estimated shipping times on the Amazon website, in contrast to immediate availability on other websites and in stores," said Hachette spokeswoman Sophie Cottrell. "We are satisfying all Amazon's orders promptly."
Amazon has previously used its dominant position in the industry to forcibly re-negotiate terms of a deal, sometimes well after a contract has been signed with a publisher. Hachette was one of the publishers named in the US Department of Justice action against Apple and other publishing houses. It was one of the first to settle with the DoJ, which through its prosecution of Apple effectively restored Amazon's dominance on e-book sales.