Publisher says Amazon is delaying book shipments over contract dispute

bezosamazonpodPeople who want to buy Malcolm Gladwell’s books and some other popular titles from Amazon could be waiting for a while.

Hachette Book Group is claiming that Amazon is delaying shipments of its books to customers while the two parties are working on negotiating a new contract. Several books published by Hachette, including Gladwell’s, are marked with shipping delays of more than two weeks on Amazon’s site. The publisher says that it is filling all of Amazon’s orders promptly.

“We have been asked legitimate questions about why many of our books are at present marked out of stock with relatively long estimated shipping times on the Amazon website, in contrast to immediate availability on other websites and in stores,” said Hachette spokeswoman Sophie Cottrell told GeekWire in an email. “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.” 

This appears to be a pattern for the Seattle-based retailer, which has used similar hardball tactics with other publishers in the past. Amazon pulled over 4,000 titles from its Kindle Store in 2012 over a dispute with the Independent Publishing Group, and acted similarly with Macmillian when that publisher wanted to switch from wholesale to agency pricing for its e-books.

Amazon isn’t the only bookseller to act in this way, either. Barnes & Noble stopped carrying Simon and Schuster’s books during a contract dispute as well.

An Amazon representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this piece. The news was reported earlier by the New York Times.

 

  • Kenneth Shear

    This article seems a little one sided, to say the least. It sounds like there’s some dispute between Hachette and Amazon, but Hachette seems to be saying Amazon is just bullying them. I for one doubt it’s anywhere near as one-sided as that. A tip off to the author’s bias is the comment about Amazon’s disagreement with Macmillan mentioned near the end of the article. The main issue was that Macmillan digging in their heels to keep ebook prices very high – like $15.99 a copy – and Amazon wanted to discount them (while still paying Macmillan a percent of full list price). It wasn’t just an issue of whether it would be agency or wholesale model. If Hachette’s complaints are similar to Macmillan’s, there’s much more to this story than the one-sided view being reported here.

    • Kary

      Maybe the author wants to get a job with King 5 or even 60 Minutes? ;-)

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  • Kary

    I think this activity is called “trying to keep prices as low as possible for customers.” Shocking!

  • Monopoly money

    Sometimes a monopolist acts like a monopolist. Near term Amazon agrees to keep the book price to publisher high, long-term they take the price to publisher down a lot.

  • Mike

    I first read this in the NY Times. The bald guy may find this tactic backfiring. When I order merchandise using Amazon and there is a noticeable delay in delivery guess who I hold accountable?