Why You Can’t Buy J.K. Rowling’s New Book On Amazon

Amazon is discouraging customers from buying books from the publisher Hachette as part of its hardball tactics to negotiate a disputed deal.

1. This week, Amazon stopped selling certain titles from Hachette books including J.K. Rowling’s latest detective novel, The Silkworm and the paperback edition of Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon among others.

Both of these books are listed as “currently unavailable” on the Amazon website.

2. Amazon’s latest strike against the Hachette Book Group comes after months of other pressure tactics the online retail giant is using to negotiate undisclosed aspects of a disputed deal between the two.

 

Amazon, which controls about 65% of the US e-book market, is trying to get better terms on e-books from Hachette, a multinational conglomerate and the smallest of the top five New York publishers, the New York Times reported.

3. While both parties have maintained silence about the failed negotation contract, author Brad Stone said that recent fights between Amazon and publishers have centered on the price of digital books among other issues.

AP Photo/Michel Spingler

Stone, whose book focuses largely on the hardball negotiation tactics of Amazon, added that “the reluctance of publishers to replace physical copies of their older, backlist books with a print-on-demand capability” is another contentious issue for the online retailer.

4. Amazon’s other hardball tactics to discourage customers from buying Hachette titles include delaying deliveries, reducing purchase price discounts, selling at higher prices, removing the pre-order buttons and messing with search results of titles.

5. Authors have also complained that Amazon has placed prominent banners promoting non-Hachette books as “similar items at a lower price” on Hachette book pages.

6. Barnes and Noble is selling a hardcover edition of Jeffery Deaver’s new novel, The Skin Collector, for $17.99 while Amazon is selling it for $25.20.

 

7. Deaver described Amazon’s tactics as an “attempt to intimidate publisher, authors and readers” and urged his readers to find an alternative source to buy the book.

8. Hachette author, Nina Laden, also lashed out at Amazon, describing the company’s tactics as “deplorable” and a “disgusting negotiation practice.”

9. Author Anna Holmes called Amazon’s tactic of delaying shimpments of her book “shameful.”

Shameful behavior by @amazon against my publisher. Now @BookOfJezebel shipping in 𠇁-3 weeks.” http://t.co/gLARR5Oa35

— AnnaHolmes (@Anna Holmes)

10. Amazon is also delaying deliveries of books by Bonnier, a leading publisher of children’s books in Germany, the New York Times reported.

Alexander Skipis, president of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association told the Times, “It appears that Amazon is doing exactly that on the German market which it has been doing on the U.S. market: using its dominant position in the market to blackmail the publishers.”

11. This isn’t the first time Amazon has used its dominance to confront publishers about e-book prices. In 2010, it removed buy buttons from books published by Macmillan. In that case, however, Amazon surrendered to the publisher’s terms.

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12. Amazon’s behavior has angered the literary community with its longtime critics saying their suspicions about the retail giant’s willingness to exploit its power in the book world have been confirmed.

AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File

Apart from inviting bad publicity and alienating authors, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is going against his claims of providing customer satisfaction. As Farhad Manjoo writes in the New York Times, “Now Amazon is raising prices, removing ordering buttons, lengthening shipping times and monkeying with recommendation algorithms. Do these sound like the moves of a man who cares about customers above all else?”

Amazon did not immediately return a message seeking comment from BuzzFeed.

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