Amazon Holds Polite and Productive Meetings With Publishers

“The Internet retailer, which controls more than a third of the book trade in the United States, is marking many books published by Hachette Book Group as not available for at least two or three weeks. A Hachette spokeswoman said on Thursday that the publisher was striving to keep Amazon supplied but that the Internet giant was delaying shipments ‘for reasons of their own.’”


Ah, god, Amazon’s seasonal publisher demoralization came early this year! The story is a little crazy in just how transparent it is: Neither Hachette nor Amazon wants to say exactly what’s going on but what is probably happening is a routine, broad negotiation of terms. Hachette is saying something like, “can we please keep what we have, it’s barely enough to keep up alive after what you did to us last year” and Amazon is saying something like “…” and pushing a slip of paper with the word “HALF” across the table and walking away. We will never know the PRECISE results of these negotiations but we will be able to guess who won.

What’s at stake? Everything:

Amazon has begun discouraging customers from buying books by Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, J. D. Salinger and other popular writers…

James Patterson’s “Alex Cross, Run” published at the end of February, is taking as much as five weeks. “NYPD Red,” by Mr. Patterson and Marshall Karp, will take as much as three weeks. Other Hachette books by the prolific Mr. Patterson are readily available, however.