updated 04:22 pm EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Latest Amazon tactic in Hachette negotiations directly involves authors
Amazon is allegedly stepping up in its aggressiveness in terms of its negotiations with book publisher Hachette, by leaning on authors affected in the dispute. The retailer has allegedly made a proposal directly to authors and agents in a letter, which would see Hachette authors receive "100 percent of the sales price of every Hachette e-book we sell," instead of the usual lower royalty split between the authors and the publisher.
Sources of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal claim the letter is circulating, with the aim of the proposal being to take authors "out of the middle" of the dispute. The suggestion apparently builds on top of an earlier proposal submitted to Hachette but declined, with the letter also stating that, upon Hachette's approval, the retailer would return to "normal levels of on-hand print inventory, return to normal pricing in all formats, and for books that haven't gone on sale yet, reinstate pre-orders."
The move is likely to be one appreciated by some Hachette authors, the majority of which have likely sided with Hachette during the negotiations, though Amazon still has its critics about the proposal's motives. "If Amazon wants to have a constructive conversation about this, we're ready to have one at any time," advised Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson, continuing "But this seems like a short-term solution that encourages authors to take sides against their publishers. It doesn't get authors out of the middle of this - we're still in the middle. Our books are at the center of this struggle."
Neither Hachette nor Amazon has commented on the letter, though Amazon executive David Naggar claims the letter was a tentative proposal being run past writers before being presented to Hachette.
The letter also outright blames Hachette for not negotiating with Amazon, claiming it first contacted to discuss terms in January. "We heard nothing from them for three full months," advises the letter, which goes on to claim the latest proposal was sent to Hachette on June 5th. Hachette is said to have waited a week before responding, claiming it was formulating a counteroffer for the following week, one that has since failed to materialize.