Peter Hildick-Smith of the Codex Group recently released the results of a survey of 5,300 book consumers in the US, and it turns out most respondents had never heard about the unresolved contract negotiations. Over 60% of those surveyed indicated that they were unaware of the standoff, and of the 39% who had read or heard about most didn’t care.
Of that 39%, a sizable number (39%) had no opinion, while 37.5% said that the dispute had not changed their buying habits and 4.4% said they were buying more books from Amazon. Only 19% of those book buyers aware of the contract dispute said they were buying fewer books from Amazon.
In other words, all of the media coverage has only managed to convince around 8% of book buyers that Amazon was at fault. That is a lot of ink spilled for not much effect.
The indifference does not bode well for groups like Authors United, which recently formed with the goal of pressuring Amazon to acquiesce to Hachette in the negotiations. Organized around authors who had signed the open letter drafted by Douglas Preston, the group plans to continue their campaign with a full-page advert in the New York Times (funded out of their own pockets). I would wish them luck, but the results mentioned above would suggest that they are wasting their time and money.
This survey confirms earlier reports from early June that Amazon’s brand image was largely untarnished by the press coverage, although it does seem to have had an increasing effect over the past 7 weeks. Perhaps if the dispute drags on for a few additional quarters, Amazon might begin to feel the pinch.