July 11, 2014
During its much-publicized dispute over a new e-book contract with the Hachette Book Group, Amazon has proposed letting the publisher’s authors keep 100 percent of their e-book sales revenue while the tense negotiations continue. The proposal is Amazon’s response to Hachette authors’ complaints that they have become collateral damage in the ongoing negotiations. Hachette immediately rejected the proposal, suggesting that accepting it would be “suicidal.”
“Amazon is pushing for a greater share of e-book revenue and lower e-book prices. Its negotiation with Hachette has turned into a messy, public battle over the future of the book industry,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “As part of its negotiating tactics, Amazon has removed the preorder button on coming Hachette titles, delayed shipments of some Hachette books and reduced the discount offered on some Hachette books.”
Hachette did not seem pleased with the proposal: “We invite Amazon to withdraw the sanctions they have unilaterally imposed, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith and with the hope of a swift conclusion.”
“We call baloney. Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate. It wouldn’t be ‘suicide.’ They can afford it,” responded Amazon. “What they’re really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage. All the while, they are stalling and refusing to negotiate, despite the pain caused to their authors. Our offer is sincere. They should take us up on it.”
Meanwhile, Hachette continues to point the blame at Amazon regarding a stalled agreement. “We made an offer in April that was the largest we ever made to any retailer, and in May made another that was higher still,” said a Hachette spokeswoman. “Both offers were rejected.”
In the U.S. in the last year, Amazon accounted for 60 percent of Hachette’s e-book sales. The impact that the loss has on Amazon would be minimal in comparison to the impact it would have on Hachette.
“Hachette constitutes a very small part of Amazon’s business,” said Maxim Group analyst John Tinker. “It’s a smart PR move by Amazon.”