Online retail giant Amazon is in negotiation talks with publishing house Hachette, following a dispute over the rights and profits relating to some of the ebooks it sells.
Media speculation arose after it appeared Amazon had stopped stocking certain titles from the publisher, which is responsible for many well-known works, including James Patterson’s novels and JK Rowling’s latest book, The Cuckoo’s Calling.
In some cases, profits made on the electronic versions of titles can be as much as 75 per cent of the cover price, but the Guardian reports Amazon is selling some books in the UK at half the price it is in the US.
Additionally, some Hachette titles are not available for pre-order in the US via the website, despite consumers being able to pay to reserve a copy in the UK, potentially helping them reach the top of the bestsellers’ list at a significantly faster rate.
Speaking to the newspaper, economist Tim Worstall explained the situation, stating: “The contract negotiation they are having is about who gets the profit split on ebooks.
“The correct answer emerges from our behaviour as consumers. We don’t know what the consumers are valuing most – the distribution system Amazon supplies them with, or the new JK Rowling that Hachette publishes. If we value JK Rowling more, then Hachette should win.”
However, Amazon has released a statement in response to the reports, explaining it has been buying less stock from Hachette than it would normally do, confirming it is currently not taking pre-orders for books with future publication dates as well.
Amazon continued, stating customers can still order a title when it is in stock following its release date, with availability dependent on Hachette.
It stated: “These changes are related to the contract and terms between Hachette and Amazon.”
The retailer explained it is working with Hachette to negotiate terms relating to the rights and profits of ebook titles, but the two parties have so far been unable to reach an agreement.
Amazon added it admired the work of Hachette and its executives and said it remains hopeful that a solution will be found to the disagreement.
Source: The Gap Partnership