E-book Pricing: War of Words Between Amazon, Hachette Publishing Heats Up

Douglas Preston is a best-selling author with Hachette Publishing and he has now become a key character in the latest chapter over Amazon’s controversial e-book pricing and other tactics.

Preston wrote an open letter, entitled “Authors United“, that has garnered widespread support in the literary community. Nearly a 1,000 writers, including household names like John Grisham and Stephen King, have signed on. It is scheduled to run as a full-page ad in The New York Times this Sunday.
The uproar between Amazon and Hachette started in the spring when the online retail giant started listing some Hachette e-books as unavailable and physical copies as delayed. Amazon has also posted prices higher for Hachette publications, compared to those offered from other booksellers.
“It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation,” says the Authors United letter. “Moreover, by inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery, Amazon is contradicting its own written promise to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.”
Hachette contends that Amazon is not properly valuing e-books.
Hachette Book Group is a division of Hachette Livre, the third-largest trade and educational publisher in the world. HBG publishes under the divisions of Little, Brown and Company, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Grand Central Publishing, Orbit, Hachette Books, Hachette Nashville, and Hachette Audio.
Hachette says that it seeks a solution over Amazon’s pricing that “preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong and author-centric publishing company.”
Amazon has responded to Hachette’s claims, calling the company a “big U.S. publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate.” Amazon writes the following in an open letter of its own addressing the stand-off. It’s entitled Readers United.
“We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.”

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