The AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) has sent an open letter today to Amazon, calling Amazon out for delaying new orders of Hachette titles and reducing the number of copies they stock in their warehouses.
Amazon is reportedly negotiating new contracts with Hachette, and Amazon is using the stock situation to pressure Hachette into signing a deal. This is much the same as what B&N did last year, only the Amazon-Hachette negotiation should matter more to the average consumer than last year's fight.
According to PW the negotiations cover both paper books and ebooks, but most importantly the ebook negotiations could decide whether Amazon will retain the ability to discount ebook prices. Hachette was one of the first to settle the ebook antitrust lawsuit in 2012, and the 2 year period where they were required to relinquish price controls is about up.
Amazon's negotiation with Hachette is going to set the tone for all of the subsequent ebook contract negotiations. If Amazon loses this round, Agency pricing could make a comeback, resulting in financial harm to ebook buyers.
Here is the letter:
Dear Amazon Team,
I am writing as the President of the AAR, the Association of Authors Representatives, the largest organization of literary and dramatic agents in North America. The AAR has more than 400 member agents, who in turn represent tens of thousands of authors, dramatists, and other rights owners.
The AAR has heard from many of its members reporting that Amazon has delayed delivery and/or otherwise impeded the sale of many of their clients’ books that were published by Hachette. Apparently, those actions are a part of Amazon’s current business dispute with Hachette. Without knowledge of the issues underlying that dispute, and without taking a position on that dispute, we want to advise you in the strongest possible terms that the AAR deplores any attempt by any party that would seek to injure and punish innocent authors--and their innocent readers-- in order to pursue its position in a business dispute. We believe that such actions are analogous to hostage-taking to extort concessions, and are just as indefensible.
The AAR supports the maximum possible sale and dissemination of all published works, which benefits not only the authors and readers of those works but all of society. On a purely commercial basis, we believe that such unrestricted dissemination of published works leads to repeat readers and buyers, which serves the economic interests of not only their authors and publishers but their sellers and distributors, including quite prominently Amazon. Each of us has a role to play in this ecosystem, and surely Amazon does not need to--and should not in any event--hold the works of selected individual authors hostage as a weapon in a negotiation with a publisher. This is a brutal and manipulative tactic, ironically from a company that proclaims its goal to fully satisfy the reading needs and desires of its customers and to be a champion of authors.
Gail Hochman, President,
and the Board of Directors of the Association of Authors’ Representatives
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