Who knew the pricing of e-books could be such a BFD? Depending on which side you take, either Amazon is being a bunch of jerks for expecting the Hachette Book Group to discount their e-books below the level of profitability, or Hachette is being stupid in trying to take on the world’s largest online retailer. (For the record, Amazon is the problem here.)
Either way you look at it, the book reading public (remember books?) can reap the benefits by shopping elsewhere.
When the Cats Away, the Mice Will Sell More Books
To teach those punks at Hachette Book Group (HBG from here on out) a thing or two about trying to turn a decent profit on their watch, Amazon has refused to sell or take preorders for a number of HBG’s new and upcoming books, including the latest from J.K. Rowling, which is sure to be a best seller even without the adventures of a certain boy wizard within its pages. Amazon has also jacked up the prices on and intentionally slowed down the shipments of available HBG books.
With Amazon willfully shooting themselves in the foot—HBG’s current offering includes thousands and thousands of titles from many popular authors—other retailers have already stepped in to steal themselves a slice of that sweet, sweet bookselling pie.
Barnes & Noble, among the last of the brick-and-mortar bookselling chains to roam the earth, started offering all HBG titles at significant discounts, including a nigh $12 reduction on the cover price of Rowling’s The Silkworm in hardcover. Books-A-Million, the Pepsi to B&N’s Coke, offered up to 40 percent off on HBG’s most recent titles through a specially created page on their website. And Walmart, who never saw a deal they didn’t like as long as it doesn’t involve paying their employees decent wages, is also offering HBG books at as much as 40 percent off; they also claim a 70 percent increase in book sales since the Amazon-HBG brouhaha began.
And the Winner Is…
From the sound of it, Amazon is ready for a long, stupid, drawn out, exhausting, gods awful dustup with HBG. It seems to me that, even though they’re clearly in the wrong for trying to force someone’s hand regarding how much they can charge for their own stinking product, Amazon will come out on top, simply because they’re Amazon. They’re so big and so powerful that they probably can’t lose, even though they’re losers.
If HBG pulls it off, and set a precedent for other publishers to contest Amazon’s restrictive pricing policies, things could get very interesting. Very interesting, indeed.
Until it’s all squared away, take your business elsewhere. That’s what Amazon wants you to do anyway.