The Amazon-Hachette dispute has dominated conversation in both the industry and the wider culture for the past month. What started as a disagreement between supplier and vendor over terms has mushroomed into an international news event, and while neither side has offered much in the way of comment, everyone else has something to say.
Hachette confirms that Amazon is “holding minimal stock and restocking some of HBG’s books slowly, causing ‘available in 2–4 weeks’ messages.”
Association of Authors’ Representatives president Gail Hochman sends Amazon a letter in which she makes it clear that the AAR “deplores any attempt by any party that would seek to injure and punish innocent authors.”
Amazon comments for the first time in a post to the Kindle forum on its site, saying that it is negotiating with Hachette on behalf of its customers and that it is “not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.”
James Patterson, who is published by Hachette, becomes one of the first big name authors to speak out against Amazon. At the ABA luncheon at BEA, Patterson said, “Amazon also, as you know, wants to control book selling, book buying, and even book publishing, and that is a national tragedy. If this is to be the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed, by law if necessary—immediately, if not sooner.”
In an interview in the New York Times, Malcolm Gladwell, also a Hachette author, said, “Over the past 15 years, I have sold millions of dollars’ worth of books on Amazon, which means I have made millions of dollars for Amazon. I would have thought I was one of their best assets. I thought we were partners in a business that has done well. This seems an odd way to treat someone who has made you millions of dollars.”
In the Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz blasted the Justice Department and judge Denise Cote for the price-fixing decision rendered against Apple and five major publishers, saying its “main impact” was to “entrench Amazon as the all-powerful online retailer.”
John Green, author of the chart-topping The Fault in Our Stars, published by Penguin, said, “The breadth of American literature and the quality of American literature is in no small part due to the work that publishers do, and it’s very unfortunate, in my opinion, to see Amazon refuse to acknowledge the importance of that partnership.”
The New York Times editorial board wondered if there may be grounds for the government to investigate Amazon, if “its squeezing of Hachette drags on for months or if it engages in similar actions against other publishers.”
Stephen Colbert, a Hachette author, called Jeff Bezos “Lord Bezomar” and gave Amazon the finger in a segment on the Colbert Report. Watch the video below.