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Amazon Promotes Hachette Title as "Best Book of the Month", Won’t Let You Pre-Order it

61Pb9Km1yUL[1]If you thought the Amazon-Hachette contract dispute reached the heights of absurdity when Apple started discounting titles that Amazon refused to sell, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Publishers Lunch noticed this morning that one of Amazon recommended titles for the month of July can’t actually be bought from Amazon.

The book in question, California, was written by Edan Lepucki and is due to be published by the Hachette imprint Little, Brown on 8 July. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing contract dispute between Amazon and Hachette, there’s no way for Amazon customers to pre-order the book which Amazon is recommending.

Amazon stopped taking pre-orders on Hachette titles a little over a month ago as a way of pressuring Hachette into accepting a new contract. No one knows for sure what the two are fighting over, but the numerous leaks from Hachette suggest that Amazon wants increased co-op fees, and possibly better terms on ebook sales.

But none of that matters today; what’s important is that Amazon is recommending a book which you can’t order. This is the online equivalent of a retail chain promoting a product in their weekly circular while also forgetting to have the product in stock.

While that is amusing, I see it as a sign of Amazon’s willingness to play hardball. They’ll even sacrifice sales of a hot new title which Amazon’s own booksellers think is a great read. If I were one of the major publishers I wouldn’t be giggling; I would be afraid. I’d be very afraid.

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Ed Bear July 1, 2014 um 7:29 pm

In Amazon’s left hand is a carrot, which is labeled "pre-order" in the right-hand is a large stick with the same label. This is a message.

Antoine Youssef Kamel July 1, 2014 um 8:26 pm

Amazon. Is. Evil.

But has good products and services.

Timothy Wilhoit July 1, 2014 um 10:29 pm

According to leaks that may or may not be completely bogus, increased coop fees or ebook sales terms could be part of the problem in getting a contract signed. However:

"[Hachette CEO Arnaud] Nourry was also bullish that the situation could be resolved in a “few weeks”. When questioned about the nature of the deal, Nourry gave a broad hint that agency would continue. He said the Department of Justice had ruled that the agency model was “legal”, and the DOJ mandated deals (agency-lite) that allowed for retailer discounting of agency-priced titles would come to end this year. This “period of discounting ends at the end of 2014”, he said."

I’m willing to bet THAT is the big sticking point in getting a deal signed.

Greg Strandberg July 2, 2014 um 12:29 am

Ha! A big name author that can’t get a pre-release…yes! I’m getting so sick of those guys taking up the Top 20 in every genre, and when they’re dang book ain’t even coming out for months!

Mackay Bell July 2, 2014 um 8:42 am

You can click a button to be emailed when it becomes available, and also click to put it on your wish list for later. So it’s not exactly like there is no purpose to recommend it.

But it is amusing to think of the hard ball tactic of Amazon being able to prove that ten thousand plus people clicked on the "email when available button" which may or may not become sales (probably only a few will) but could have been real sales if Hachette had agree to terms.

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