So Amazon is apparently trying to crush the UK branch of Penguin Random House. The retailer has arranged a leak about the ongoing negotiations to Re/code, which has covered the leak with hysterically inaccurate hysteria.
Rather than discuss the negotiations in terms of the actual impact and its ramifications, Re/code invented a scenario which is beyond wildly improbable and verges on the impossible:
Will Amazon’s contract negotiations with the last of the “Big Five” consumer book publisher be its toughest?
The e-commerce giant’s deal to sell books on its U.K. website published by Penguin Random House, the world’s largest book publisher, is set to expire by the end of the month, according to an Amazon source. If the two sides don’t come to a new agreement by the deadline, Amazon could pull all Penguin Random House print and e-books from its U.K. online store, Amazon.co.uk.
Such a move would be costly to both sides. The publishing house accounts for about 40 percent of all consumer book titles sold worldwide, according to industry experts. Amazon’s book selection in the U.K. would look a lot thinner if it pulled all of those titles.
Yes, because Amazon's immediate reaction would be to stop sell Randy Penguin titles in the UK - all of them, including both print and digital. It is entirely reasonable to predict that outcome; after all, it is exactly what Amazon did before when Amazon was negotiating with Hachette last year.
No, wait, I'm wrong; Amazon did not pull all Hachette titles from its shelves.
They did reduce the stock on hand, stop promoting the books, and generally took a passive role as the negotiations dragged on. In spite of what some might claim, that is not the same as the doomsday scenario Jason Del Rey laid out above.
Del Rey's scenario is, frankly, ridiculous. Remember, Amazon has negotiated new contracts with 4 major trade publishers in the past 9 months; two of which went down without drawing any public attention at all, and even the HarperCollins negotiation was completed with a minimum of casualties.
Only the Hachette negotiation got messy, but at this point there's no way to tell that this latest negotiation will take the same path.
That said, I think the Randy Penguin negotiation could get messy and at the very least it will be public. Between the Amazon leak on Friday and that inexplicable statement from The Authors Guild, I think both sides have already decided to conduct a pr campaign in the media.
Good. I'm not too worried about this ending badly, so I plan to sit back and enjoy the free show.
Could someone pass the popcorn, please?
image by abusx