Amazon, Hachette put it all behind them

Book selling giant Amazon and publisher Hachette announced this morning that they have signed a new multiyear contract, ending a bitter public dispute over book pricing that angered many authors and possibly some Amazon customers. No terms were announced, but Hachette b oohs will be fairly available on Amazon pages again. Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch emailed this note to his authors, per CNN's Brian Stelter on Twitter.

Dear Authors and Agents,

I’m very happy to bring you the good news that Hachette Book Group has reached a new agreement with Amazon for ebook and print sales. While the new ebook terms will take effect early in 2015, Hachette titles will be restored as soon as possible to normal availability on Amazon, will be available for pre-order, and will be included in promotions on the site, a very positive development as we head into the holiday shopping season.

The new agreement delivers considerable benefits. It gives us full responsibility for the consumer prices of our ebooks. This approach, known as the Agency model, protects the value of our authors’ content, while allowing the publisher to change ebook prices dynamically to maximize sales. Importantly, the percent of revenue on which Hachette authors’ ebook royalties are based will not decrease under this agreement.

Throughout our negotiations, Hachette has strived to reach an agreement that is in the long-term interest of our authors, readers, and this company. The past several months have been difficult ones for the writers Hachette publishes and the agents who represent them. We send our sincere thanks to you for your patience and support as we conducted this negotiation. I feel strongly that this new contract reestablishes our positive relationship with Amazon, an important retailer and industry leader, and that this strong relationship will benefit the writers we publish for many years to come.


The New York Times says the deal "broadly" is in line with a deal that Amazon recently struck with Simon & Schuster. Hachette books now will be easier to find and buy on Amazon, as before the dispute turned to retaliation. From the NYT story:

An Amazon executive, David Naggar, said Amazon was “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….”

While Amazon and Hachette successfully kept the exact terms of the dispute to themselves, Amazon was widely seen as wanting a bigger share of e-book revenue. Since Amazon also wanted lower e-book prices, that was seen by Hachette supporters as a move that threatened to undermine the publisher’s existence.

The retailer and Hachette, the fourth largest publisher, have been battling it out since the beginning of the year, at first quietly and then very publicly. Amazon raised the stakes by discouraging sales of Hachette books, which incited the ire of those authors and then other members of the literary community.

Gladwell poster copy.jpgHachette author Malcolm Gladwell told Bloomberg TV, before the deal was announced, that the dispute had cost him a lot of book sales and "a lot of money." "It breaks my heart a little. I had thought of Amazon as in partnership with writers. And for a company to try and make a business point by turning its back on – you know, I have sold through Amazon – millions of books. I have contributed mightily to their bottom line. I would have thought they would have seen me as an asset."

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