Hachette Book Group
Authors are upset with Amazon. Again.
For much of the last year, mainstream novelists were furious that Amazon was discouraging the sale of some titles in its confrontation with the publisher Hachette over e-books.
Now self-published writers, who owe much of their audience to the retailer's publishing platform, are unhappy.
One problem is too much competition. But a new complaint is about Kindle Unlimited, a new Amazon subscription service that offers access to 700,000 books - both self-published and traditionally published - for $9.99 a month.
Do tweets sell books?
It has long been a question for publishers and authors, who have started relying heavily on social media to promote books as they search for new ways to reach readers in an uncertain retail market. Authors with large Twitter followings, like John Green and Paulo Coelho, have become publishing powerhouses.
Now, the Hachette Book Group is testing whether a tweet from an author can directly trigger a sale. Hachette, which publishes best-selling authors like James Patterson, Michael Connelly and Malcolm Gladwell, announced on Monday that it would partner with Gumroad
"The book industry is in better shape than it ever has been and it's due to ebooks," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told an audience on Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview that addressed the company's drone plans, its campus culture and its indifference to pain of short-term shareholders. Speaking at a BusinessInsider event in New York, Bezos downplayed Amazon's recent high-profile spat with publisher Hachette as a run-of-the-mill fight with a supplier, adding that it's the essential job of any retailer to fight for the best price for its customers
If you were looking for a simile to describe Amazon's relationship with authors, you couldn't do better than picturing Amazon as King Kong and the authors it desperately and clumsily wants to court as Fay Wray. One compelling reason for this analogy is that the courtship between brute and beauty was destined to leave a lot of collateral damage in its wake. Amazon has been trying to get around publishers and win the affections of authors for some time. There were several strategic moves. Launching the Kindle-which coincidentally took place seven years ago today-was one.
In the deal that Amazon and Hachette Book Group finally reached Thursday after months of bitter negotiations, we don't really know which side "won," if one side did. But one survivor - perhaps surprisingly - was agency pricing for ebooks, the practice through which the publisher sets an ebook's price and the retailer takes a commission. Hachette said in a letter to authors and agents Thursday:
Thursday morning, The New York Times announced that after a bitter, months-long, highly public dispute, Amazon and Hachette have reached an agreement over how they will set e-book pricing. The mega-seller and the publisher did not immediately disclose the terms of the deal, but did reveal that Hachette now has the ability to set e-book prices, the original point of contention between the two companies. Michael Pietsch, the CEO of Hachette, called it "great news for writers," while Amazon executive David Naggar declared it "a great win for readers and authors alike."
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.
"This is great news for writers," said Michael Pietsch, Hachette's chief executive. "The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come.
Amazon.com has chosen Celeste Ng's debut novel Everything I Never Told You as its book of the year, ahead of a wealth of prominent titles from Richard Flanagan's Booker-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North (93rd) to Hilary Mantel's short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher (61st) and Martin Amis's The Zone of Interest (81st). Ng's novel, due to be published in the UK this week, is about a Chinese-American family whose oldest daughter, Lydia, is found drowned in a lake.
oes publishing matter? Of course it does. That's one reason the dispute between Amazon.com and Hachette is so significant, because it has broader implications for the ways books are released and sold. Indeed, one of the finest aspects of the current publishing landscape is that, when it's working, things feed back into the center, and there is (or should be) room for all. This is what I don't understand about Amazon's defenders, many of who are also detractors of traditional publishing
The failure of the Fire Phone has been widely cited as the reason for Amazon's disastrous quarter, but a darker cloud has settled over the world's biggest online retailer. The core of Amazon's business-its original reason for being: selling books and other media-has grown wobbly. The problem: many people no longer want to buy stuff. They'd rather rent.
Amazon is not alone. This long-predicted shift in consumer priorities-from ownership to access-also seems to be taking a bite out of Apple, another business that depends on convincing people to buy things.