The retailer sent out an email to all authors and publishers currently signed up with KDP, asking them to take a side in the ongoing contract dispute with Hachette. The letter can be read at readersunited.com, so I won’t quote it here, but I do wish to comment on it.
The letter expands upon the arguments presented in Amazon’s last statement, which was posted on one of Amazon’s forums, and it frames the ongoing contract dispute with Hachette as primarily having to do with ebook prices (why KDP authors should care about Hachette’s rbook prices being too high, I do not know).
The letter opens with a brief history lesson on the rise of paperback books, including a misquotation of George Orwell (which is a shame, because the full quote is an apt fit for recent history). The letter goes on to remind us of that recent history, including Hachette’s role in the collusion to raise ebook prices, and then it reiterates the economics argument Amazon made in their statement last week (which does have some market research to back it up).
The letter concludes with a plea for KDP authors and publishers (as well as anyone who finds the website, which has the salutation Dear Readers) to directly email Michael Pietsch, the CEO of Hachette Book Group, and express their displeasure.
This is not a good sign. While I don’t want to single out Amazon for engaging in a pr campaign (Hachette started one months and months ago), the fact that Amazon is now trying to fight this as a pr battle and not in the boardroom suggests to me that the negotiations are not going well.
If Amazon thought they were shortly going to get the deal they wanted, or even one they could live with, they would not have sicced KDP authors on Hachette. It would have been a wasted effort, and contrary to Amazon’s past behavior, to recruit allies to act on its behalf.
But now Amazon is actively building a base of support. I see that as a sign that Amazon expects the negotiations to drag on. Speaking as someone who would rather see authors, that sucks.
P.S. Does anyone else wonder whether Hachette is dragging things out so they can get another major trade publisher to help them tag team Amazon on Agency pricing? It would fit with Hachette Livre CEO’s statements that there was no hurry to resolve the dispute.
image by clagnut