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It’s not just Hachette — Amazon stops taking pre-orders on Warner Bros. movies, too

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Book publisher Hachette apparently isn’t the only media company facing delayed shipping and unavailable pre-orders as it negotiates with Amazon(s amzn) over a new contract. Warner Bros. (s WB) is facing similar actions on upcoming DVDs like The Lego Movie and 300: Rise of an Empire, the New York Times noted Tuesday.

The DVD edition of The Lego Movie, for instance, is supposed to be released June 17, but Amazon isn’t taking pre-orders for it even though it’s available on sites like Barnes & Noble. noticed that the movies were unavailable for preorder a few weeks ago, and complaints in the customer forums dating back to mid-May. The titles can still be purchased and streamed through Amazon Instant Video, and that option is prominently displayed in search and on product pages.

Lego Movie Amazon Warner Bros

Titles distributed by Warner Bros. are also affected. One post in the Amazon customer forums, for instance, pointed to a Facebook(s fb) post in which anime distributor VizMedia noted, “Our products are distributed by Warner Brothers, and currently they’re in contract negotiations with Amazon. Pre-orders are disabled while that goes on, but we’re hoping it will be resolved soon.”

The battle with Hachette has drawn criticism from high-profile Hachette authors like Stephen Colbert, who dedicated two segments of a recent episode of “The Colbert Report” to it. It’ll be interesting to see whether any actors start weighing in.

12 Responses to “It’s not just Hachette — Amazon stops taking pre-orders on Warner Bros. movies, too”

  1. Wally Valentine

    I honestly can’t work out how people can possibly fall for this. What is Amazon’s side of the story, you ask? Well, legally, Amazon cannot obtain copies of books that Hachette publishes without getting them from Hachette, and cannot obtain DVDs that Warner Brothers publishes without getting them from Warner Brothers. So, if they aren’t able to work out contracts with these publishers, then they are not legally allowed to obtain any more of these books and DVDs. Therefore, they’re running out of stock and they can’t, in good conscience, sell you a pre-order. Note how this is entirely uncomplicated, and totally different than what every (publisher-owned…) news source is reporting, which is that somehow Amazon is choosing to do this as a tactic. What’s happening is that these publishers are playing hardball, and refusing to offer goods at all through Amazon, even under a temporary contractual deal that a difference in price will be made good later, while they are negotiating. It’s the only thing we can know about these otherwise thoroughly secret negotiations. Also, note that WB appears to be operating in concert with Hachette to leverage the pressure, even though one would think that the two are independent entities.

    Just use your cranium for a second. Media heavy-hitters like Colbert are complaining throughout the publishing media that Amazon is being a monopolist by refusing to carry these titles. They then immediately suggest that you go to some specified other sources to obtain the book. Often it involves nothing more than typing a different name into your web browser, and there are multiple options. By definition, that means that Amazon does not have a monopoly. In fact, they appear to be subject to nearly perfect competition on this count. Meanwhile, what if we try to buy the suggested book, but not from the publisher Hachette? Well, it’s illegal for anyone other than Hachette to publish it, so you can’t. That means, by definition, that Hachette does have a monopoly. Want The Lego Movie, but not from Warner Brothers? Sorry, also against the law for anyone else to produce it; WB has the monopoly. Funny how those got switched around in the press, which happen to be … publishers.

    There are lots of things wrong about Amazon (one-click? worker conditions? digital exclusivity? Kindle DRM?) However, the publishers are decidedly worse, and have much better capacity to successfully lie about it. Don’t be a sucker by falling for their propaganda. If you want a cause, try buying from indie bookstores and direct from authors as much as possible. And always keep in mind that the last third of every episode of the Colbert Report or similar shows is insidious advertising, of a particular kind that exemplifies the odd power of the publishers within our society to shut out truly independent voices. Don’t buy something just because Hachette can work out a backroom deal with the producers of The Colbert Report to plug it on his (otherwise fabulous) show.

    • Rick Carufel

      You make a very good point:
      Amazon cannot obtain copies of books that Hachette publishes without getting them from Hachette, and cannot obtain DVDs that Warner Brothers publishes without getting them from Warner Brothers.
      Yet both Hachette and Warner want to sell pre-orders, basically product futures and not the actual products at all. You try to sell a product you don’t have and see how long it takes before you to have legal problems.

  2. InterestedBystander

    Time to boycott Amazon! Multi-billionaire tryies to crush any competition! If their business plan isn’t illegal,it is certainly unethical!

  3. Why not give BOTH sides of the story? Hachette , along with other publishers, was fined for price fixing. Amazon lead the fight – didn’t you wonder why an e-book costs more that a printed book? Did you actually believe the publishers fabricated stories? Nobody with a functioning brain did. “According to the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the settlements with the five publishers accused of price fixing—Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin—total $166 million nationwide. ” Apple is fighting the settlement, but is expected to pay fines totaling over $800 million, as they were a major part of the scheme. B&N was fine with the price fixing, as it allowed greater profits. Hatchette is starting to pull the same stunt again, raising the prices on e-books. Amazon is fighting them. So at least TRY and look unbiased.

    As for WB, EVERY retailer that does volume negotiates with the distributes. Ever wonder how items get on your local grocery store shelves, or at eye level instead of on the bottom? NEGOTIATIONS. Distributes negotiate for space – they PAY for premium space. Companies that buy $500 million of products pay less than the store that buys $1,000 worth. That’s how they charge less. Don’t like it? Shop elsewhere. Pay more.

    • Lisa Beth Darling-Gorman

      Woot woot! Hooray for Amazon. Now people like me are STUCK charging a lousy $0.99 for an ebook! Yeah! I’m so happy that Amazon is on my side. What would I do without them?

  4. I always am reminded of the business term, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Negotiate like hell I say!

    I am hugely loyal to Amazon for many reasons and in a crumbling economy and spiking stealth inflation when their slim margins make them ferocious negotiators for value and best pricing, I can do nothing but cheer them on.

    Consumer is still king with them and I want ALL mega-corps to quake in their boots and remember it!

    • Ric, I’m afraid you speak out of both sides of your mouth. You cheer on the monopoly and then hope that “mega-corps quake in their boots”

      If you’re not willing to participate than you are only supporting Amazon, who is definitely the mega-corp in these match ups.

      It is tough, Amazon provides a great service and since I allowed my Prime Membership to lapse about a year ago, there are definitely things I miss. I let it lapse because I realized if I didn’t support my local businesses they will disappear and many are already on the brink. Your neighbor may be working at the local bookstore. I saw a study that said Amazon required 14 employees to generate the same revenue as 47 working in bookstores.

      If you want your downtown stripped to the bare minimum, you will accomplish that by shopping at Amazon and Walmart. You live here, you decide what you want your neighborhood to look like.

    • Lisa Beth Darling-Gorman

      You’re funny. Naive but funny. Amazon IS a mega corporation in the Dot Com world. They are not interested in the consumer any more than Wal-Mart is interested what’s good for their customers. All Amazon cares about is their bottom line and being number one…just ask anyone who works for them or who is (more or less) forced to sell through them. They’re horrible and getting worse by the second.