Amazon and publisher Hachette bury the hatchet over online book sales dispute

Amazon Kindle

After months of bickering, pointing fingers, flinging accusations and calling each other names, it appears that Amazon, the international electronic commerce company, and Hachette, the French publisher, have buried the hatchet. All books from Hatchette will resume showing and selling on Amazon.

The two companies have reached an agreement over online and ebook sales following months of fighting, a fight that had authors, agents and publishers colliding.

The fight, especially Amazon’s attempt to stop customers from buying Hachette titles, received reactions from some prominent authors, including Donna Tartt, Salman Rushdie, John Grisham and Stephen King. The authors signed a petition demanding Amazon stop using writers as hostages in its negotiations. The Authors United petition began with a letter written by author Douglas Preston who is published by Hachette. Preston wrote a letter to all his readers and asked them to contact Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, and demand that Amazon stop using writers as hostages in its negotiations.

The fight has been going on since May, when Hachette refused to give Amazon pricing control over is eBooks, which would have seen most of its digital titles discounted to less than US$10 a book. When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, so this is good news for the consumer.

Earlier negotiations had not gone well between the two companies with Amazon accused of using bully tactics. It was reported that Amazon prevented customers from being able to pre-order Hachette titles, reducing discounts it offered on Hachette titles and, the cruel tactic yet, delaying shipment of some of the publisher’s titles for up to a month which negatively affected sales and the readers, a thought that eluded Amazon.

Under the new deal, which was announced on Thursday, Hachette will be responsible for setting consumer prices of its ebooks as of early 2015. It will also benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers. Anytime now, Hachette titles will resume normal trading on Amazon and will also feature in promotions.

Amazon said the deal included “specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices, which we believe will be a great win for readers and authors alike”.

Michael Pietsch, Hachette Book Group CEO, said: “This is great news for writers. The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. It gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of our most important bookselling partners.”

Preston has received the news with much jubilation, saying that “I’m very relieved both for myself and for my fellow Hachette authors. I don’t know the full details but I’m sure Michael Pietsch would not have accepted anything that was not beneficial for his authors, so I’m quite satisfied and happy about it”.

The deal will benefit both Amazon and Hachette but more importantly it will benefit the authors and the readers whose interest in the fight appeared to have been forgotten by Amazon.



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