Book Expo America was great this year. Good weather and traffic karma helped. One topic on everyone’s mind was the ongoing negotiations between Amazon and Hachette Book Group over the prices of electronic books. This was the lead story in the PW Daily the first two days of the show and I have been interested to follow some of the coverage in regular media and on Facebook this weekend.
I notice that there is a wide range of opinions on the situation and deep feelings on all sides. I decided to share some of the links for anyone who wants to learn more about it or knows about it and wants to join in.
The contentious issue is that in the course of the negotiations, Amazon has apparently used the tactic of slowing down or stopping the order and shipment of some of Hachette’s titles in an attempt to get Hachette to agree to Amazon’s terms. Most people feel that this is a definite escalation, akin to bullying by Amazon. I was surprised that Amazon would go up against Hachette who has big name authors. For example, one of the Hachette titles mentioned was the new J K Rowling mystery, The Silkworm, which I am anxiously awaiting.
The other thing that interested me was a profile of the CEO of Hachette, Michael Pietsch. This story in the New York Times explains that he is first and foremost a book editor and edited Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and more recently, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which is my favorite book of the year so far. It seems very ironic that in a struggle between Amazon and the traditional publishing model, he is the real deal as an editor who has brought some amazing work to publication.
Some people believe it was only a matter of time until the struggle between Amazon and the remaining publishers came to a showdown. I found an article that appeared in the New Yorker in February of this year to be quite an education on the history of how Amazon started. It is a heavy read but it is fascinating.