Amazon must be feeling the heat.
After Stephen Colbert and Sherman Alexie called the company out for strong-arming publisher Hachette in negotiations over terms, Amazon was uncharacteristically quiet.
Over the weekend, Amazon made its own appeal to authors, saying it was “thinking of proposing” that, for the duration of the negotiations, authors published by Hachette get to keep all of the revenue from their digital-book sales (see Amazon’s letter to authors and agents here), with both Amazon and Hachette giving up their percentages.
As word got out, Hachette issued a statement, rejecting the idea, saying it would be “suicidal.”
Amazon responded, “We call baloney. Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate. It wouldn’t be ‘suicide.’ They can afford it. What they’re really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage. All the while, they are stalling and refusing to negotiate, despite the pain caused to their authors. Our offer is sincere. They should take us up on it.”
The story is being covered widely. Shelf Awareness, the daily newsletter for booksellers, characterized Amazon’s move as being ” a bit like a mugger wanting praise for donating stolen goods to a charity.”
New York Times – Amazon Angles to Attract Hachette’s Authors to Its Side
Washington Post – Amazon makes an offer to Hachette authors – this article takes an interesting look at the stats, which indicate that Hachette would have much more to lose by giving up revenue from their author’s ebooks than Amazon — “According to Hachette’s Web site, the publisher makes approximately 33 percent of its sales from e-books; the New York Times reported that around 60 percent of that business comes through Amazon. A New Yorker report in February estimated that 7 percent of Amazon’s revenues come from books.”
Wall Street Journal – Amazon Dangles E-Book Offer Amid Hachette Dispute
New York Post — Amazon bows to author pressure in e-dispute