Amazon v Hachette: Don’t Believe The Spin

Amazon is my major distributor and very much the hand that feeds me, so I’m unlikely to bite them regardless. But I’d been uneasy regarding the news I’d seen lately. This post gives me faith, though. It’s hard to decide which major international corporation to root for, but I’m going to give Amazon the benefit of the doubt in the face of these slanted and uninformative articles I’ve seen slung about, until I get harder evidence against them anyway. Go, Boss!

David Gaughran

amazonhachetteThe internet is seething over Amazon’s reported hardball tactics in negotiations with Hachette.

Newspapers and blogs are filled with heated opinion pieces, decrying Amazon’s domination of the book business.

Actual facts are thinner on the ground, however, and if history is any guide, we haven’t heard the full story. Here’s how it started.

In a historical quirk of the trade, publishers and booksellers negotiate co-op deals at the same time as the general agreement to carry titles. (For those who don’t know, co-op is the industry term for preferred in-store placement, such as face-out instead of spine-out, position on end-caps, front tables, window displays, and so on.)

At publishers’ insistence, the same practice has continued in the online and e-book world, namely that negotiations regarding virtual co-op (e.g. high visibility spots on retailer sites) take place at the same time as discussions over general terms and publisher-retailer discounts.

There is a lot…

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