New 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.
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