Amazon vs Hachette

It is perhaps inevitable that with any new idea or product or technology there will be a period of adjustment. So it is with e-books, as this article explains – one of the world’s biggest publishers is in dispute with one of the world’s biggest booksellers, over the issue of the price of e-books. Several hundred authors from various publishing houses have written an open letter to Amazon, claiming that they have “directly targeted Hachette’s authors in an effort to force their publisher to agree to its terms.”

The price of e-books has always puzzled me – why so high? As Amazon states, “With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive.”

It’s a difficult debate – as Hachette points out, many publishers supported Amazon when it was a struggling start up business – it wouldn’t be where it is today without their support. But similarly, with the growth of e-commerce and the rapidly changing ways in which people at large purchase and read books, the authors and publishing houses also need outlets like Amazon to be able to keep selling and keep ahead of the ever changing game.

As a reader, I would like to see e-book prices drop a little lower than they are at the minute. But as a writer, I can see why it’s important for authors and publishers to get a fair deal, and not have to be held to ransom by what they describe as “bullying tactics” from retailers. It’s difficult to see who will win this battle…

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