If you thought the Amazon-Hachette contract dispute reached the heights of absurdity when Apple started discounting titles that Amazon refused to sell, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The book in question, California, was written by Edan Lepucki and is due to be published by the Hachette imprint Little, Brown on 8 July. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing contract dispute between Amazon and Hachette, there’s no way for Amazon customers to pre-order the book which Amazon is recommending.
Amazon stopped taking pre-orders on Hachette titles a little over a month ago as a way of pressuring Hachette into accepting a new contract. No one knows for sure what the two are fighting over, but the numerous leaks from Hachette suggest that Amazon wants increased co-op fees, and possibly better terms on ebook sales.
But none of that matters today; what’s important is that Amazon is recommending a book which you can’t order. This is the online equivalent of a retail chain promoting a product in their weekly circular while also forgetting to have the product in stock.
While that is amusing, I see it as a sign of Amazon’s willingness to play hardball. They’ll even sacrifice sales of a hot new title which Amazon’s own booksellers think is a great read. If I were one of the major publishers I wouldn’t be giggling; I would be afraid. I’d be very afraid.