Consider for a moment Amazon.com’s roots, a seller of books at discounted prices that delighted bibliophiles and altered the bookselling industry. Now nearly twenty years after its founding, the company’s ongoing dispute with French publisher Hachetteovershadows what should be an interesting time to look back at Amazon’s progress from selling books to selling virtually everything that can take a price tag.
Book buyers seeking Hachette titles on Amazon are instead confronted with messages about minimal availability and long waits for order fulfillment. In a statement made in early May by Hachette when the dispute between itself and Amazon became more widely disseminated, the publisher said, “We are satisfying all Amazon’s orders promptly, and notifying them constantly of forthcoming publicity events and of out-of-stock situations on their website. Amazon is holding minimal stock and restocking some of HBG’s books slowly, causing “available 2-4 weeks” messages, for reasons of their own.”
The present day dispute has been widely reported as a negotiation for better terms for Amazon when purchasing Hachette titles. Amazon.com, as noted, isn’t that little garage startup from twenty years ago. It’s a market force and one that’s bringing said market power to bear in their quest for a better deal.
Amazon recently reached out to comment publicly on the Hachette situation. At Amazon’s Kindle forum, the company did what it rarely does in mentioning this kind of business issue.
But Amazon came to praise Hachette, not to bury them. “Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives. Nevertheless, the two companies have so far failed to find a solution,” Amazon said in a quote attributed to their Books Team.
Amazon also did not hesitate to point out Hachette “is part of a $10 billion media conglomerate,” perhaps to ensure no one would mistake the latter for, well, a company selling books out of a garage.
And it had advice for buyers that might benefit third-party booksellers:
“If you do need one of the affected titles quickly, we regret the inconvenience and encourage you to purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors,” Amazon also said, referring to those Hachette titles affected by the present dispute.