Hachette, which first released a statement when news of this dispute broke in the NYTimes (and has been subsequently leaking details right and left), put the blame for this dispute and the resulting fallout squarely on Amazon’s shoulders.
Hachette claims to want a solution that values an “author’s unique role in creating books, and the publisher’s role in editing, marketing, and distributing them”. Funny, Amazon distributes the books they sell, not Hachette, and as anyone can tell you most marketing is left to Amazon and or authors.
It’s also worth noting that what Hachette calls limiting a customer’s ability to buy Hachette titles is in fact “making Hachette books available on the same terms as those of smaller publishers, including its own KDP authors.” (Thanks, Marc!)
It is good to see Amazon acknowledge that its business decisions significantly affect authors’ lives. For reasons of their own, Amazon has limited its customers’ ability to buy more than 5,000 Hachette titles.
Authors, with whom we at Hachette have been partners for nearly two centuries, engage in a complex and difficult mission to communicate with readers. In addition to royalties, they are concerned with audience, career, culture, education, art, entertainment, and connection. By preventing its customers from connecting with these authors’ books, Amazon indicates that it considers books to be like any other consumer good. They are not.
We will spare no effort to resume normal business relations with Amazon—which has been a great partner for years—but under terms that value appropriately for the years ahead the author’s unique role in creating books, and the publisher’s role in editing, marketing, and distributing them, at the same time that it recognizes Amazon’s importance as a retailer and innovator. Once we have reached such an agreement, we will be happy to discuss with Amazon its ideas about compensating authors for the damage its demand for improved terms may have done them, and to pass along any payments it considers appropriate.
In the meantime, we are extremely grateful for the spontaneous outpouring of support we have received both privately and publicly from authors and agents. We will continue to communicate with them promptly as this situation develops.