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Caught in the Middle of Amazon's Spat With Hachette

An employee stocks books at a Fulfillment Center in Phoenix on Dec. 2, 2013
An employee stocks books at a Fulfillment Center in Phoenix on Dec. 2, 2013Photograph by Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo

Earlier today, as has been widely reported elsewhere, Amazon ratcheted up the pressure in its ongoing negotiations with the book publishing conglomerate Hachette Livre, pulling book-buying pages on for some of the publisher’s forthcoming releases. Among the casualties is the The Silkworm, the new novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and the paperback edition of my book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, which just so happens to be in large part about the hardball negotiation tactics of Amazon itself.

It’s not clear what the sticking point is in the discussions between Hachette and Amazon. Neither party is talking. Recent skirmishes between Amazon and book publishers have centered on the price of digital books and the reluctance of publishers to replace physical copies of their older, backlist books with a print-on-demand capability. Earlier today Michael Pietsch, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, sent a letter to Hachette authors, apologizing and yet indirectly pointing the finger at Amazon’s obstinacy. “Please know that we are doing everything in our power to find a solution to this difficult situation, one that best serves our authors and their work, and that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong and author-centric publishing company,” he wrote.