THE battle between the online bookselling giant and the Hachette publishers has taken a nasty turn: Amazon has removed the pre-order button for some books, has removed the discount it usually offers for others, and is fighting with publishers over profits on ebooks. Bestselling writers like James Patterson, J.K. Rowling (pictured) and detective novelist Ian Rankin are getting tangled up in the mess. (On Amazon US, you currently cannot pre-order The Silkworm, the new Rowling novel which is due in a few weeks.)
As a Guardian article has it:
For other authors such as Rankin, Amazon has removed the discounting that helps shift titles: the hardcover version of the latest Rebus is for sale at £7 on Amazon.co.uk, but on Amazon.com will set you back $26 (£15.50). Other retailers are discounting it, including Barnes & Noble, which offers the title in the US for $16.85 (£10). Other writers caught in the crossfire appear to include Jeffrey Deaver, Anna Holmes and Joshua Ferris. A Hachette spokeswoman confirmed that Amazon had removed discounts from a number of its titles in America.
“There is a huge monopoly in Amazon. This dimension of power is something we haven’t seen before and what they are doing must be an abuse of power,” said literary agent Clare Alexander, who represents Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
The new aggressiveness by Amazon seems motivated by Wall Street’s impatience with the company’s inability to make a consistent profit; share prices are down more than 20 percent from this time last year.
The articles suggests that Hachette, owned by a large French corporation, may have the muscle to fight back at least a little bit. I continue to wonder where anti-trust folks are.