Amazon-Hachette Feud Heats Up

Aug 12, 2014

After Amazon posted on its blog, claiming that it's disagreements with Hachette are over ebook prices and its percentage of the sales cut, Hachette talked to the New York Times to dispute Amazon's version. Hachette says Amazon has been demanding payment for what the publisher considers standard service, like the pre-order button and a dedicated employee at Amazon who handles Hachette business.

Those familiar with the book industry might not see anything out of the ordinary about Amazon charging for these kinds of services, considering that your local Barnes & Noble makes plenty of money charging publishers for store real estate. If you see a book at the front of your store, someone has paid for that. Even a book that is facing forward on the shelf has been paid for-and considering the huge boost a book gets on the sales charts from the pre-order button, Amazon's charge seems like a reasonable demand. But Hachette, according to Business Insider, seems worried that these requests will get out of hand.

Meanwhile, Amazon sent emails to thousands of readers and authors asking them to send Hachette and email and copy the retailer. The message was also posted on Readers United. Much has been made about the misuse of a George Orwell quote in the letter, but what's more interesting is Amazon calling out the book industry for not truly understanding its own business:

"Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive."

In other words, Amazon still says the disagreement is about price.  Considering the wildly different accounts of what the dispute is truly about, it's no wonder this negotiation isn't coming to an end.