New Details Come to Light on HarperCollins Negotiations With Amazon

15328904230_33ceb2f052_nNew details have come to light concerning the ongoing contract negotiation between Amazon and HarperCollins.

When I reported on the story on Tuesday, I knew little more than that the negotiations had hit a snag.  The original BI article didn’t include any direct quotes, just unnamed sources, but it was later updated to include this statement from Amazon:

I can’t comment on that rumor. I can say that we have offered Harper the same terms for a contract that Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan have all recently agreed to.

I can also add that Publishers Lunch said that the contract negotiation had been going on for over a year. Writing for PL, Michael Cader believes that someone at Amazon leaked the details to BI as “Amazon’s way of telling Harper, their authors, and others that the bookseller’s patience has worn out”. Given that Amazon later provided a quote to BI, I can’t discount that conclusion.

Publishers Lunch notes that the Amazon-HarperCollins contract expired in September 2014 (or at least that was the month when HC’s settlement agreement with the DOJ expired). This comes as a surprise to anyone who followed the better contract dispute between Hachette and Amazon last year. Amazon started ending services and reducing the stock of Hachette titles in Amazon’s warehouse within weeks of that contract expiration, but we haven’t seen anything close to that with HarperCollins.

Streitfeld hasn’t written an impartial editorials, Douglas Preston hasn’t threatened to have Amazon thrown to the DOJ’s antitrust wolves, and there haven’t been any complaints from authors.

Assuming that all of the present details are correct, this could be a sign that the negotiations, while overlong, are not as acrimonious as the Hachette-Amazon negotiations were last year.

Given the general lack of information, i think it is too early to draw any conclusions. We’ll just have to wait and see.

images  by ActuaLitté

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Lynne Connolly2 April, 2015

    Right at the top of Harper Collins is the figure of Rupert Murdoch. He takes a personal interest in all of his companies, so maybe this will get more interesting.

    1. Anne3 April, 2015

      This article from the DOJ trial is the first thing I thought of when I heard about the breakdown in negotiations. If Rupert took an interest in the deals back then, I think it’s likely he is taking an interest in them now.

    2. Nate Hoffelder3 April, 2015

      Now that you mention it, I bet we’ll be able to tell that Murdoch took a personal interest when the WSJ posts an unsigned editorial on the issue.

      I’ll keep an eye out.

  2. Publerati2 April, 2015

    Battles between two gorillas always leave innocents trampled. That would be the authors and readers in this case. I read recently that the new CEO of Walmart is leading a new cost-cutting battle with their suppliers. When P&G meets with Walmart, now there is some major gorilla wrestling!

  3. Bob W3 April, 2015

    Well since we don’t have any real fact and are just speculating….

    If the contract did expire in Sept 2014 the timing of this would suggest that they were operating under a temporary 6 month contract extension that expired without resolution and another temporary extension was required. One of the parties must feel the existing terms are more favourable than the new proposed terms, or they have another reason to delay. Like for instance aligning the contract renewal with another publisher.

    HarperCollins hasn’t been shy in the past about using the sister media organizations in News Corp to spin their message so it’s a fair guess that the leak came from Amazon.

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