WELL, it’s not clear who cried uncle first, but this fight between the online realtor and the French publishing company — whose authors were being punished by late delivery and discouraged sales — seems to be resolved.
Here’s the lead from today’s New York Times story:
Amazon and Hachette announced Thursday morning that they have resolved their differences and signed a new multiyear contract, bringing to an official end one of the most bitter publishing conflicts in recent years.
Neither side gave details of the deal, but both pronounced themselves happy with the terms. Hachette gets the ability to set the prices on its e-books, which was a major battleground in the dispute.
The deal, which both sides describe themselves feeling just great about, is similar to one struck between Amazon and Simon and Schuster.
Of course, I feel terrible for authors whose book launches were squashed by this fight. New books only get a few weeks to make an impact, and for writers who worked for years on a project (one that, thanks in part to Amazon, now typically pays pretty paltry advances for non-celebrity authors) and to have its changes of breaking out limited like this…
That said, this fight was useful in that it allowed Amazon to show its true colors as an online bully similar in some ways (though not all) to the old robber barons and the trusts Teddy Roosevelt went after.
For all of the companies claims that they want to revive literary life, they’ve shown what they’re really about: money and power.
Salon’s Laura Miller, one of the most credible observers of things literary, writes:
Observers will no doubt be watching the pricing of Hachette titles on Amazon very closely to see how much effect those powers have. Meanwhile, one other large publisher (Simon & Schuster) recently came to terms with the retailer and the contracts of two more (Macmillan and the gigantic Penguin Random House) come up for renewal in December.
In fact, the only thing we really can know right now is that people who want to buy Hachette books will now be able to do so as easily as they can any other titles. This, I hardly need say, is a great relief to the authors of those books, some of whom have seen their sales seriously harmed by the standoff. And that, to be sure, is nothing but good news.
Let’s all keep our eyes on how this goes.