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Amazon admits to Hachette book sale disruption over terms dispute

updated 06:28 am EDT, Wed May 28, 2014

Retailer offers funding pool co-creation for Hachette authors

Amazon has publicly admitted to disrupting sales of books from publishing group Hachette, via its Kindle forum. The retailer revealed it is not actively buying stock from the publisher in anticipation of sales to customers, and claims the entire escalating feud between the two companies relates to the pricing of books, along with other supply-related terms.

"We are currently buying less (print) inventory and 'safety stock' on titles from the publisher, Hachette, than we ordinarily do, and are no longer taking pre-orders on titles whose publication dates are in the future," reads the post from the Amazon Books team. "For titles with no stock in hand, customers can still place an order at which time we order the inventory from Hachette," with the retailer claiming the changes are "related to the contract and terms between Hachette and Amazon."

Collection of Hachette books
Collection of Hachette books

In terms of the impact on customers, Amazon advises its actions do not affect 989 out of 1,000 items sold, while also suggesting those requiring Hachette books quickly to "purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors." Amazon claims the issues with negotiations is on the "behalf of customers," with the term negotiations being an "essential business practice" critical to "keeping service and value high for customers in the medium and long term."

While the general thrust of the statement relates to fighting for the customer, Amazon does make a suggestion to help authors affected by the issue. "We've offered to Hachette to fund 50 percent of an author pool -- to be allocated by Hachette -- to mitigate the impact of this dispute on author royalties, if Hachette funds the other 50 percent," adding that it did a similar deal with Macmillan a number of years ago.

Those looking for the issue to be closed quickly are out of luck, according to Amazon. While it admits "Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives," Amazon states "though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon."

By Electronista Staff
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  1. James Katt

    Junior Member

    Joined: 03-02-08

    So where is the Justice Department in this monopolistic behavior play by Amazon??? Huhhhh?

  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 07-25-06

    In a nutshell: Amazon wants discounts that other online book retailers aren't getting so it can drive its competitors out of business. Then it will be able to dictate prices and control availability. Keep in mind that if Amazon gets away with stomping on the major publishers, then small publishers and independent authors don't stand a chance. Currently, independent authors get 60-70% of an ebook's retail price in royalties. Apple pays 70% at all prices from $0.99 up. Amazon only pays that for ebooks priced from $2.99-9.99. Otherwise, Amazon pays a pitiful 35%. If Amazon defeats the major publishers and drives competing ebook retailers away, independent writers will see their royalties slashed in half. That's not hypothetical. That's precisely what Amazon did to just months back to independent authors who were creating audiobooks for Audible. Why? Because Amazon already owns the audiobook market.And note that that does not mean low prices. An audiobook as short as The Hobbit (11 hours) costs $27.99. Where Amazon rules, prices are high and authors/creators get screwed. That's the Bezos Way.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Clearly time for the DoJ to increase sanctions against Apple.

    That's how this works, right?

  1. macmediausa

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-23-05

    we have a Justice system that clearly has a bias against Apple. we have such a joke system that clearly embarrasses the law

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Inkling: thanks for that concise (and accurate) assessment of what Amazon's up to. I can only assume that someone high up at the DOJ has been completely bought off -- it's the only rational explanation for the agency's utterly bizarre behaviour in the e-book market.

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