The end to the saga: Hachette blinks

hachette vs amazon imageThe long running ‘negotiations’ between Hachette and Amazon has finally come to an end. And while it is unclear who ended up winning, Digital Reader believes that  Hachette blinked given that its revenues fell 18% in the third quarter of 2014.

I’m also inclined to this view given that Hachette’s parent company reported on 13 November that Hachette’s US revenues were down considerably from last year. While the decline was attributed to difficult comparisons with last year when the company had an “unusually high” number of bestsellers they did admit that the  “difficult situation” with Amazon also impacted sales.

For all of Lagardere Publishing, revenue in the quarter fell 2.9%, but  the sharpest decline by far happened in the US, the unmistakeable conclusion being that at least a major part of this was due to the ongoing contract dispute with Amazon.

The possibility of a circuit breaker in the ongoing dispute was the agreement Amazon negotiated with Simon and Schuster in October – which is probably similiar to what was finally agreed with Hachette. And while it is unclear what was actually agreed here’s what both parties said about the new agreement:

  • “We are pleased with this new agreement as it includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices.” [Amazon’s David Naggar, press release] (This is the same thing that Amazon said about the deal it reached with Simon & Schuster in October,

  • “Importantly, the percent of revenue on which Hachette authors’ ebook royalties are based will not decrease under this agreement.” [Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch, press release] (Gigaom.com)

So, finally the saga comes to an end, and while no-one is a clear winner, it appears that both parties achieved a little of what they were seeking.

 Read previous posts

And if you want to catch up on the whole sorry saga in the Publishers Weekly

Round Five: the fight between Hachette and Amazon goes public

hachette vs amazon image

On 9 August Amazon emailed a public letter to all of its authors stating its side in the ongoing dispute with Hachette.

Basically Amazon’s argument boiled down to:

  •  Large publishers had illegally colluded to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
  • Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
  • Hachette should stop using their authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.

In support of its argument Amazon went public with information on the offers it had made Hachette to take authors out of the middle, specifically: Continue reading

Round Four: the fight between Amazon and Hachette spills over and gets bitter

hachette vs amazon image

In a previous post (Round Three - Hachette vs Amazon) I covered the developing stoush between Amazon and Hachette which at that time, although threatening to affect both writers and readers, really seemed only to affect the companies concerned. But as the ‘negotiations’ continue to drag on the fight is starting to get bitter with writers now taking sides.

The petition

The taking of sides started with “letter to our readers” spearheaded by bestselling writer Douglas Preston and signed by 69 of Hachette’s authors.  However the reaction to this ‘letter’ by many smaller authors can be best characterised by Amy Eyrie’s response on the Bookseller’s blog: “… the reaction of these rich writers protecting the status quo is deeply disappointing. A little more time acting as mentors to fledgling writers and a little less time guarding their monopoly is what I expect from artists. What I see is a bunch of shallow, cynical business people.

In response, as Barry Eisler explains (see Barry’s blog or his specific post) Hugh Howey created an alternate petition to Hachette’s CEO that as at 13 July had obtained 7,110 signatures. The petition reads:  Continue reading

Round Three – Hachette vs Amazon

Amazon-HachetteEarlier this month reports started to circulate that Amazon had acted to slow the speed with which it fulfilled orders on Hachette’s titles, with delays in some shipments reaching five weeks.

The news was first broken by the New York Times on May 8. However this appears to have only been ’round two’ in an extended series of ‘negotiations’ which may have started back in February when Michael Sullivan first noticed that the discounts for all his Riyria books listed on Amazon.com had vanished, raising the price of  his ebooks from $8.59 – $8.89 to $9.99 and his print books from $11.41 – $13.80 to $16.00 or $17.00. What was even more disturbing, however, was the discounts on most of his fellow Orbit (the fantasy imprint of Hachette) author’s books had disappeared as well.

Michael also started to see stocking issues from March 9 with both Hachette and Amazon blaming each other for the delays (Hachette accusing Amazon of placing small orders, Amazon blaming Hachette for not filling them). However, we are now well and truly into round 3 with Amazon upping the ante by removing the preorder capabilities on many major forthcoming Hachette titles. Continue reading