The Disney titles feeling the brunt of this latest dispute include titles such as Maleficent and Captain America: The Winter Soldier which were both unavailable for pre-order on the online website over the weekend, although digital copies could be pre-ordered. This seems to be the exact same tactic Amazon is using with their disagreement with Hachette, and there are likely similar arguments from both sides.
The battle between Amazon and Hachette also continued over the weekend with the emergence of both a petition against Amazon’s market opening tactics, and a petition for them. The argument centers around Amazon’s proposal to price down e-books from $12.99 to $9.99. Hachette, who stands to lose money, has understandably protested against the move, but Amazon has responded to their stubbornness by simply removing Hachette pre-orders from the Amazon store and lengthening delivery times.
Now writers are taking sides in the argument and it’s turning out to be more than just a pricing skirmish between a publisher and an online retailer. Instead it seems that the old and new school of the industry are facing off in a worth defining struggle.
On one hand, the opportunity to self-publish affordable e-books has democratized the market allowing unknown writers access in ways never before experienced. While on the other, established authors who have poured more time and energy into the craft are protesting at the idea of being undercut by this change in technology, and in book consumption.
The Independent reports from both ends of the battle field with this comment from popular Irish e-book author, David Gaughran, strikes at the petition against Amazon.
“I absolutely reject the idea that lower e-book prices are harmful to authors.” Lower prices expand the market…bestselling authors don’t want the status quo to change because it has served them very well. But since the explosion in popularity of e-books, more writers are earning a living from selling books than ever before. This is something all authors should be celebrating, but perhaps those at the top table are worried about losing their seat.”
On the other side of the argument, agreeing with Hachette and many of the most popular writers in the world is Douglas Preston. He co-wrote the Pendergast Crime Series and organised the anti- Amazon petition which many established authors of note have signed in protest of Amazon’s tactics of negotiation. “Amazon has been throwing its weight around for quite some time in a bullying fashion and I think authors are fed up.”
It’s an argument that has merits on both sides. The way people read is changing so shouldn’t our authors adapt and remain open to the change, in the same way that every other industry has had to adapt to technology?
But on the other hand, no one likes a bully, and surely as the dominant online retailer, Amazon could treat authors and their craft with a little more respect. At least until a compromise can be made.
(Photo courtesy of Andy Melton)