When I first reported on the rumored contract talks between Amazon and PRH UK on Sunday, I predicted that the two parties were going to fight a PR battle in the press. I think the second volley may have arrived.
The Guardian weighed in on the story on Monday. They don't have much original reporting to add to the story, but the way they said it raises questions in my mind:
Industry sources say Penguin may block sales of its books on Amazon because of a contract dispute, but both sides are playing down the row.
The world’s biggest publisher, Penguin Random House, could block sales of its books on Amazon if it fails to resolve a contract dispute with the online bookseller. According to industry sources, Amazon, which sells around 90% of all books online, and Penguin Random House are in dispute over the terms of a new contract for online sales that could grow into a full-blown row.
Leaving aside certain details like the bogus 90% market share and The Guardian's unspoken assumption that this is a UK fight, I find it interesting that The Guardian reported that "sources say Penguin may block sales of its books on Amazon because of a contract dispute".
Is that hyperbole or is it an actual leak from Randy Penguin UK?
If that us hyperbole which was added to spice up a dull story, then we can safely ignore it. But if it is an actual leak from someone at PRH UK then it's another volley in the PR battle.
Remember, during the negotiations with HarperColins earlier this year, Amazon strategically leaked information to the press (twice, in fact). And last year both Hachette and Amazon played the PR game with puppets, strategically leaked info, and carefully timed statements.
And now history could be repeating itself. As I reported in Sunday, I thought there could be a public PR battle during this negotiation, but I don't think PRH would be firing another shot this soon after the statement from The Authors Guild on Friday. I don't see a need for PRH to move this quickly, but it's not out of the question.
What do you think?
image by Martin Burns