Amazon and Hachette Kiss and Make Up

The ongoing feud/standoff between and Hachette Book Group is finally coming to a close, putting an end to one of publishing’s nastiest, most high-profile bitch-slap fests of all time.

Amazon and Hachette announced a multiyear agreement Thursday with Amazon removing pre-order tags for Hachette books, reduced discounts and slowed deliveries, (just in time for the holiday shopping season).

“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.”

David Naggar, an Amazon vice president, said the company was pleased that the deal “includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices, which we believe will be a great win for readers and authors alike.” (Amazon has claimed all along that this was the fundamental reason for the hub bub – wanting to keep prices down and allowing authors unhappy with traditional publishers to be able to release their work elsewhere – but I think that while this is true, to an extent, it was also bottom line driven more than anything.)

The agreement takes effect early next year however, the restrictions placed on Hachette books are being lifted immediately.

But did either side really win in the end?

Hachette’s corporate parent, Lagardere, issued an earnings report recently showing an 18.5 percent sales decline for Hachette in the third quarter and blaming “punitive measures” by Amazon for a drop in the U.S. market share of e-books for adult trade releases. Meanwhile, Amazon issued a disappointing earnings report last month, although the impact of Hachette books was unclear.

And I don’t think either party benefited from airing their dirty laundry for the general book buying public when it all could have been handled more professionally. In the end, they both looked bad, which will have long term negative results among consumers.

At least we can all get back to reading and shopping for our books again online in relative peace and quiet. By the way, there are only 40 more shopping days until Christmas.

Shopping Days

About Thomas Kelleher

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