Amazon And Hachette Go To War

Posted By on August 9, 2014

Things seem to be heating up in the battle between Amazon and Hachette.

In a nutshell, Amazon wants to be able to price ebooks at a lower (and I think more reasonable) price than Hachette wants to allow it's books to be sold at.

These two huge entities in the publishing world have been locked in war long enough for things to start getting ugly. With no give on either side, Amazon is using what might be deemed as dubious practices. Many Hachette titles are no longer available on Amazon. Titles that are available are on a delayed shipping pattern, not available for pre-order and not available as one-click purchase. Word is out that Amazon has even suggested to customers that they buy Hachette books used.

In reference to Amazon's current handling of Hachette books, a pro-Hachette petition making the rounds (and being signed by some very big name Hachette authors) makes a statement about how no entity should be able to choose to keep books from the hands of the people that want to buy them. Really? I  have a  hard time even forming words to express how dumb that argument is. In much the same way Hachette group can pick and choose who they want to publish, Amazon has the right to choose who and what they want to sell. Hachette wants to sell their ebooks at a higher rate, they can sell them somewhere else. And everyone loses a little bit, probably. Which is why the battle continues.

Hachette, meanwhile, is making themselves very likable by not saying much publicly. But reports are they are cutting jobs from the inside, and making it clear the cuts are because of Amazon.

Seems just as backhanded as Amazon tactics. Yet the sentiment out there right now it anti-Amazon.

That's nothing new folks. The big presses, the New York of publishing has always been anti-Amazon. At any major publishing expo, Amazon is the table in the corner that is supposed to be ignored or forgotten as if in time-out.

The truth in that is that Amazon scares them. Amazon and independent on-line publishers and the ebook are frightening. They will change the way books are done. They will change the publishing industry forever. And those at the top are going to have to adapt. Or not. Change is hard. Especially if the status quo works just fine for you.

And the status quo does work. For a few. The big literary houses make lots of money. The big name authors of these houses make lots of money.

For anyone else, we're bottom feeders hoping for a scrap. Waiting for one of these big houses to throw us a bone.

I've read that this war is really about Amazon wanting a bigger cut from selling Hachette books. That makes no sense to me. If Amazon sells the book at a lower price, their cut is also going to be lower. I honestly do believe it's more about the volume. Paying the same (or nearly the same) price for an ebook as a paper book is insane. With an ebook, there's no paper cost, no print cost, no storage or delivery cost, no massive buy backs if the book doesn't sell. You just don't have the same risk or cost. On average, nn ebook that costs $12 is not going to sell as many copies as an ebook that sells for $5.99. Lower price point means more sold, more sold means more money in the long run. And that's just fact.

Personally, I love my paper books. I also love my ebooks. I will take chances on authors I haven't read before in ebook format. I will gladly part with five or six dollars to see if they can tell a story. I am very, very reticent to spend twelve to fifteen dollars on an ebook. In fact, I really just don't do it. My spending money has to go as far as possible. Only my steady and true favorite authors or books are going to have big money shelled out for them and in that case, they are always going to be print.

Amazon knows this. Amazon knows this is how it works for at least half the population. It's not for nothing they sell 50% of the US books. Fifty percent, people! You don't get fifty percent share if you aren't doing what your customers want.

Still, detractors will say this tug of war is all about the money for Amazon. Of course it's about money. It's all about money for Hachette as well. Getting it and keeping it. Of course, they're both just thinking about business. That's their job. That's why they exist. Authors want to be paid, publishers want to be paid, and so does the mainframe employed to sell their work.

It's really very simple.

Now go shake hands and let's all get back to our part of the job.


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