Publishing house, Hachette, and Amazon have been butting heads for a few months now. Hachette claims that Amazon is purposely delaying sales of the company’s books, and Amazon has stated that Hachette is seeking unfair contract terms. In other words, this is a negotiations battle, but it’s one that Amazon doesn’t want authors involved in.
Today, Amazon sent out notices to various Hachette authors suggesting that 100% of proceeds go directly to writers and not to Amazon or Hachette. After sending out those letters to writers, Amazon then sent the same letter to Hachette. Checkmate. Now, writers are involved in the dispute in a whole new way.
Strategically Caught in the Middle
Hachette responded to Amazon’s letter by stating that giving author’s 100% of proceeds while the dispute rages between the two companies would be “suicide.” Amazon wrote back stating that Hachette simply wants to keep writers involved in the dispute, so that writers would go to bat for the publishing company. Amazon has made a very clever move by trying to prove to writers that the company is looking out for their best interest, but will authors fall for the move?
Hachette authors include JK Rowling and James Patterson amongst others, and writers aren’t the most gullible of folks, so it’s unlikely that they don’t see Amazon’s well-placed angle here. On the flip side, getting 100% of proceeds would be huge for writers, since the authors that actually power publishing houses often get a very small percentage of proceeds. Then again, publishing houses pay authors plenty of money in advances, so that the publishers can then keep a percentage of profits. Amazon has said that its sincere in its offer to give authors 100% of the profit, and authors can take the company up on the deal at any time.
Further, Amazon has told authors that Hachette is keeping writers from selling books through Amazon (there is a freeze on any books from Hachette), and not the other way around. Amazon says that writers should send any angry letters to Hachette, and not to Amazon.
Both companies are not budging where negotiations are concerned, and now Amazon has made a bigger move. In offering to pay writers completely royalties for the time being, some authors may just take Amazon up on that offer if Hachette doesn’t start negotiating and selling books to Amazon. It’s clear that publishers need Amazon to sell books, since Amazon sells more books than any other company (consider eBooks here).
Right now, it’s a standoff, and no writer has claimed that royalty offer – for what will happen when the dispute ends, and a writer has sided with Amazon? This is a very strategic move for Amazon, and it’s one that doesn’t sit well with Hachette at all. Hachette writers still remain in the mix, and all parties involved are just waiting for things to move along. As it stands, you’ll have a hard time getting any Hachette books through Amazon until the dispute has been settled.