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Amazon Is The Reader's Friend

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Illustration by Thomas James

In late 2014, Amazon and the publishing house Hachette settled a months-long dispute over who should set the price for e-books. In Amazon'€™s view, lower prices mean more sales and more readers, and that benefits everyone. But for publishers, the price of an e-book must reflect the investment made, from the author'€™s advance to a book'€™s production. The conflict, resolved for now, has only raised more questions about the value of books, Amazon'€™s business practices, and the role of publishers. Is book publishing an oligopoly, a dinosaur in need of disruption? Is Amazon, which accounts for 41% of all new book and 67% of all e-book sales, a monopoly? Who is doing right by readers and the future of books?


Petitioning Hachette’s CEO: Major publishers like Hachette have a long history of treating authors and readers poorly. Amazon, on the other hand, has built its reputation on valuing authors and readers dearly.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Writers and Readers

Emotions are running high because the publishing industry is being radically reshaped by the same disruptive forces that have transformed all sorts of industries from travel and insurance to newspapers and music.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
JJ Marsh interviews David Gaughran

As things stand, Hachette is making e-book discounts impossible, and almost everybody else stands to lose.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Hugh Howey

If we have to pick between two corporate strategies for making money, the one offering more access is better.

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Clay Shirky

Hachette is a middleman. So is Amazon. There should be only one.

Saturday, August 30, 2014
Josh Breinlinger

I always have a lingering suspicion that when one of the large publishing cartels complains they are being treated unfairly by Amazon, it’s probably good for most all of the smaller, independent presses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Martin Shepard

Hachette’s fight is the last gasp of a paper-publishing business model in an increasingly e-book world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Steve Cohen

Jeff Bezos’ company is not the problem with American capitalism. It’s the solution to our economy’s ills.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Reihan Salam

Without taking sides on the contractual dispute between Hachette and Amazon, we encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Publishers provide venture capital for ideas. They advance money to authors, giving them the time and freedom to write their books.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?

Monday, February 17, 2014
George Packer, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Paul Krugman

Indie authors will benefit most if Amazon loses its war with traditional publishers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Laura Miller

If you are wondering why Amazon would subject its customers to this inconvenience and wish to understand what’s really happening between Amazon and Hachette you need to know the meaning of the word monopsony.

Friday, May 30, 2014
Bob Kohn

Traditional publishing needs Amazon to survive right now, but American culture needs traditional publishing.

Thursday, September 25, 2014
Alex Shephard

In Germany, fixed-price laws curtail the power of retail chains and help to sustain a vibrant literary culture.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Michael Naumann

E-retailer, book publisher reach multiyear pact for print, digital books.

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Jeffrey Trachtenberg and Greg Bensinger

Hachette’s tussle will determine whether publishers can gain leverage against Amazon, the biggest seller of e-books, at a time when demand for digital tomes is surging and physical books are losing ground.

Thursday, June 5, 2014
Edmund Lee

So, who's right and, more importantly, who will win?

Monday, August 25, 2014
Steve Dent

Online businesses can grow very large very fast—it is what makes them exciting. Does it also make them unusual threats to competition?

Saturday, November 29, 2014
The Economist

Amazon got big fast, hastening the arrival of digital publishing. But how big is too big?

Monday, June 18, 2012
Steve Wasserman

Amazon is not only the biggest player in the game, they also work hard to maintain the illusion (and often the reality) of rock bottom prices.

Friday, May 30, 2014
Polly Mosendz

Let’s ignore the overheated rhetoric for the moment and focus on the raw data.

Monday, February 10, 2014
Jeff Bercovici

Rather than using readers and writers as hostages in their ongoing battle over discounts, commissions and co-op fees, both sides might better use their ingenuity to come up with a simpler and more rational structure for the industry’s economics that is better able to adapt to changing technology and market realities.

Saturday, June 7, 2014
Steven Pearlstein
Price-Fixing & Apple

The agency model and the 2012 Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple and five of the Big Six publishing houses.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Publishing Trendsetter

Apple Inc. colluded with five major U.S. publishers to drive up the prices of e-books, a federal judge ruled in a stern rebuke that threatens to limit the technology company's options when negotiating future content deals.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Chad Bray

The larger point is that the executive and judicial branches intervened to aid Amazon, a quasi-monopolist incumbent at a crucial competitive juncture amid the shift to digital from print, preventing a market resolution.

Thursday, September 11, 2014
The Wall Street Journal

When a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Negotiating for acceptable terms is an essential business practice that is critical to keeping service and value high for customers in the medium and long term.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Amazon Books

Specific information about Amazon's objectives.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Amazon Books

“What we really have to do, if we want a healthy culture of long-form reading, is to make books more accessible… If we want a healthy culture of long-form reading, you have to make books more accessible. Part of that is making them less expensive.”

Saturday, December 13, 2104
Henry Blodget

By preventing its customers from connecting with these authors’ books, Amazon indicates that it considers books to be like any other consumer good. They are not.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Digital Book World

The email from Michael Pietsch, chief executive of Hachette, written to reply to emails about the publishing company’s e-book pricing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014
Michael Pietsch