Updated: Amazon and Hachette finally reach deal; Hachette will set its ebook prices

5 Comments

Amazon and book publisher Hachette Book Group have finally reached a deal in the negotiations that have been going on since May. For months, Amazon removed pre-orders on Hachette titles, shipped them with delays and would not discount them.

The new agreement, announced in a joint press release Thursday, covers both print and ebooks.

“This is great news for writers,” Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch said in a statement. “The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. It gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of our most important bookselling partners.”

“We are pleased with this new agreement as it includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices, which we believe will be a great win for readers and authors alike,” David Naggar, VP of Kindle, said in a statement.

When the new ebook terms take place in early 2015, “Hachette will have responsibility for setting consumer prices of its ebooks, and will also benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers. Amazon and Hachette will immediately resume normal trading, and Hachette books will be prominently featured in promotions.”

See that “responsibility for setting consumer prices”? Yep, that’s the return of agency ebook pricing about two and a half years after the Department of Justice first sued Apple and publishers for conspiring to set ebook prices. Obviously, neither Amazon nor Hachette is offering very specific details about the contract they agreed on, but the public disclosures about the deal make it sound similar to the one recently reached between Amazon and Simon & Schuster.

During the negotiations, Hachette titles were unavailable for pre-order, shipped with delays and sold without discounts. But Publishers Lunch noted Thursday morning that some change appeared to be afoot, as pre-orders were turned back on for some titles and a few titles began being discounted again. For example, [company]Amazon[/company] chose Michael Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead (great book, recommend) as one of its best 100 books of 2014 earlier this week, but was selling the hardcover at its full list price of $26. As of Thursday, however, the hardcover was being sold for $16.90 and the Kindle edition for $9.09.

A new contract is certainly be something to celebrate after months of back-and-forth PR campaigns, author manifestos and endless, endless pontificating.

This post was updated several times on Thursday.

5 Comments

Steve

Wasn’t this the exact same pricing scheme that got Apple sued for anti-trust?

Dave

From a consumer’s perspective, what Amazon was doing was great! It was wealth redistribution. Using the enormous amount of money from share investors have been pouring in ($150 billion market cap) to subsidize consumers through discounts.

From a business person’s perspective, I would side with Hachette. I can see my non-commodity product being sold at huge discount, drawing customers away from my other distribution channels to the point where this single distribution channel accounts for over 50% of my sales and then this channel comes back to me and forces me to absorb the discounts it has been giving out to attract sales.

The scary part is this channel is virtually global and its influence is industry wide.

pkdecville

The Irony Measure is very high.

This agreement is very close, if not identical, to the ‘illegal anti-trust’ agreements that Apple has been judged to have engaged by the Honorable Judge Koh.

And while you’re at it, HJH, you might consider the risk of continued negative oversight by your Appellate Court.

Not a job well done, your honor.

Casey Penk

That’s fair, ricdesan. Choose with your wallet.

That being said, I’ve got a very bad taste in my mouth from the childish and greedy way Amazon has handled this.

ricdesan

This is a non-issue for many folks who got a bad taste in the mouth from this mess. Hachette can say and do as they please but I have decided I wont EVER EVER pay more than $10 for any of the books or authors this house offers.

Did I say EVER? Yes, that!

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