Amazon says quick end unlikely in dispute with Hachette

Wed May 28, 2014 12:56am EDT
 
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By Deepa Seetharaman

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc is preparing for a long battle with Hachette Book Group over a contract dispute that led the U.S. online retailer to curtail sales of some of the publisher's books.

In a statement on Tuesday, Amazon said Hachette, a unit of French media company Lagardere SCA, has operated in "good faith" but the two sides remain at odds. The comments, the first by Amazon since the dispute became public in early May, didn't disclose details of the disagreement between the pair.

"Though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon," Amazon said in a statement posted online. [link.reuters.com/zum69v]

Hachette didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment outside of regular business hours.

Amazon has been buying fewer print books from Hachette and last week removed an option to pre-order Hachette titles that will be published in the future. These include "The Silkworm", an upcoming novel written by author of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling, under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

In recent weeks, authors and other publishing insiders have criticized Amazon for unfairly wielding its power as a major retailer to gain an edge in contract talks.

"What I don't understand about this particular battle tactic is how it is in the best interest of Amazon customers," author James Patterson said in a May 13 post on his Facebook page.

In a letter to authors posted on May 23 on the website of the Authors Guild, a group for book authors, Hachette chief executive Michael Pietsch said the publisher was looking for a solution "that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong author-centric publishing company."   Continued...

 
A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking