Amazon Pushes Yet Another Publisher Around

Jordan Weissmann | Moneybox | May 9, 2014

Once again, Amazon appears to be putting the screws to a major publisher. According to the New York Times, the king of all Internet retailing “has begun discouraging” shoppers from buying Hachette releases by stretching out shipping times to two weeks or longer. Titles like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Stephen Colbert’s America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t seem to be affected, along with books by J.D. Salinger, James Patterson, and others.

Hachette says it's trying to supply Amazon with ample copies of its books, but Jeff Bezos & Co. are slowing down shipping to a crawl “for reasons of their own.” I think most of us are meant to interpret that as: “The fire-breathing Internet beast wants us to give them a price break.” Predictably, the episode is eliciting quite a bit of outrage from writers who are equally wary of said beast.

Amazon has, of course, applied similar hardball tactics in the past. It revoked the “buy” buttons for thousands of books in Macmillan’s catalog when the two companies were in a tiff over e-book prices and removed e-books from the Independent Publishing Group from its site entirely during another contentious negotiation. This is why many in the book world found it fundamentally unfair that the Justice Department saw fit to bring an antitrust case against publishers and Apple for banding together to force higher pricing on Amazon. Bezos gets to muscle the industry around, yet the publishers—as they would have you believe—are legally bound to sit helpless...