Friday, May 23, 2014

Amazon Squashes Major Publishing House - Again

Laura Miller quit buying books from Amazon because of its monopolistic tactics. She asks the question, "Is it impossible for book publishers to do the same?" 

In all likelihood, it will be impossible for publishers to quit Amazon as easily as Laura did - in spite of their dirty tactics. Amazon's recent punishment of Hachette authors is a case in point. When Hachette tried to negotiate better terms with Amazon, Amazon retaliated by delaying publication of Hachette titles, stalling shipments, removing pre-order capabilities, and raising prices while offering cheaper substitutes. 

How long will Amazon get away with being the biggest bully on the block? 

As long as Amazon holds most of the cards in the Internet deck, publishers don't stand a chance.
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Goodbye, Amazon: We’re through!

By Laura Miller - Salon, May 20, 2014

No longtime observer of the power struggle between Amazon and traditional book publishing could be surprised by the news, delivered by the New York Times last week: Amazon is playing hardball with the Hachette Book Group while the two companies renegotiate the terms of their contract. As David Streitfeld reported, Amazon has been delaying shipments and raising prices on Hachette’s titles while emblazoning the Amazon pages for books like Jeffery Deaver’s thriller “The Skin Collector,” with banner ads across the top touting “similar items at a lower price” from more compliant publishers.

Such tactics — an inconvenience to consumers and a hardship for the targeted authors — are not new. When Macmillan Publishers attempted to wrest control of the prices of their e-books from Amazon in 2010, the retailer removed the buy buttons for all Macmillan titles (print as well as e-books) for a few days. Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store” documents Amazon’s view of itself as a proud predator, a “cheetah” that aims to take down the “gazelle” of book publishing.

But even cheetahs have their weaknesses, and a little poking around on Amazon’s site revealed that the retailer is not hobbling every Hachette title in its online store. Specifically, Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” a bestseller since it was released last fall and the recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, can still be purchased, in hardcover, at a handsome 45 percent discount and without its buyers being subjected to pitches for substitutes.

This may not comfort Sherman Alexie — an outspoken Amazon critic — much; would-be purchasers of Alexie’s acclaimed 2007 novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” will still have to wait a ridiculous two to three weeks for the paperback to ship from Amazon. Nevertheless, the exception made for “The Goldfinch” is telling.

Read the rest of this article here


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