COMMENTARY — Amazon and Hachette continue to be at an impasse over pricing terms, and if you’ve been reading a lot of the mainstream media outlets and watching Stephen Colbert, who is published by Hachette, it’s all Amazon’s fault.
But here’s a little secret most of these entities don’t want to readily admit: they’re part of a $10 billion media conglomerate. Basically, Hachette and its parent company Lagardère control the news.
That’s why Amazon is so heavily vilified, as one-time legacy publisher-turned-self-publishing bestseller J.A. Konrath points out regularly on his blog.
(Now, before we go any further, this is a bit of inside baseball, so to catch up on the Amazon and Hachette dispute, here’s a primer from Bustle, though again, it’s a mainstream media source so it’s far from unbiased.)
This week, Amazon made a deal that was an absolute momentum shifter. See, the entire time Hachette has claimed to be standing up for its authors.
As it turns out, Hachette has been stalling negotiations in an effort to try and regain control of what you pay for eBooks. They think an eBook, which costs virtually nothing to produce, should cost you about $20. Amazon’s belief is closer to $10 or lower.
Hachette has been very slow to respond to Amazon’s repeated attempts at negotiating — at least that’s what the online retailer accused them of, and in their response, they didn’t deny it.
As a result, their authors, the people they’ve been “fighting for” have been losing a large chunk of income to missed sales from Amazon, the largest book supplier in the U.S.
With Amazon’s latest offer, which CBC notes, Hachette has already turned down, Amazon even offered Hachette authors an unheard of 100 percent of the revenue from sales of their eBooks, so that if a $9.99 purchase was made, the full amount would go to authors until a final deal could be reached.
Effectively, Amazon obliterated the crux of Hachette’s supposed battle terms by offering authors a great deal so they wouldn’t be affected by the dispute.
One Hachette author complained that the people who work on marketing and packaging of books wouldn’t be paid under those terms, but that’s not true.
Staff is paid a salary by Hachette regardless; the only people not earning any money from the missed sales are authors, and for some reason, many of them don’t seem to mind, even though Amazon wants to continue supporting them during negotiations.
Still, that hasn’t stopped many authors from blindly following the herd. However, what you may not know is that there are many more authors who’ve signed a petition urging Hachette to end its poor faith negotiation tactics.
Also, Amazon offers typically earn more money per book because of Amazon’s 70 percent royalty deal. If an author were to publish with Amazon, a $9.99 book would net them around $7. Selling through Hachette, however, they only get about one-fourth of that.
Ultimately, Amazon will win the Hachette war; however, it will take a few more months for that to become clear. As a result, eBook prices and royalties will be the better for it. Publishers, however, may need to find a new line of work.