Amazon.com defended the right of a retailer to promote a publisher’s books differently than it does books from other publishers in the wake of a dispute with Hachette.
“A retailer can feature a supplier’s items in its advertising and promotional circulars, ‘stack it high’ in the front of the store, keep small quantities on hand in the back aisle, or not carry the item at all, and bookstores and other retailers do these every day,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.
The dispute between Amazon and Hachette, in which the retailer is said to have delayed shipments of the publisher’s books or listed them as unavailable, has led to allegations that the retailer is misusing its dominance of the online books business.
“Two summers ago, when the five publishers teamed with Apple to take a stand against Amazon’s e-book dominance, the Justice Department went after the publishers, not Amazon, implicitly sanctioning Amazon’s monopoly and allowing anti-competitive tactics like this to continue,” wrote the Authors Guild, an advocacy group for writers.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled last year that Apple and five major U.S. publishers including Hachette had conspired to raise prices in the e-book market to counter Amazon. Apple has appealed the order.
“We are currently buying less (print) inventory and ‘safety stock’ on titles from the publisher, Hachette, than we ordinarily do, and are no longer taking pre-orders on titles whose publication dates are in the future,” Amazon wrote. These changes are related to the contract and terms between Hachette and Amazon, the online retailer said.
Amazon said that despite much work from both sides, it and Hachette were unable to reach agreement on terms. Amazon said it is “not optimistic that this will be resolved soon,” and recommended buying the affected titles from its third-party sellers or competitors.
The retailer said it had offered to fund 50 percent of an author pool that Hachette could allocate to mitigate the impact of the dispute on author royalties, if Hachette agreed to fund the other half. Hachette could not immediately be reached for comment on Amazon’s statement.