Amazon and Hachette finally settle eBook row

Amazon and publisher Hachette have finally settled a bitter row over the price of eBooks.

Amazon and Hachette finally settle eBook row

The dispute, which began earlier this year, saw the two companies locked in an acrimonious and mutually damaging battle to control the price of the Hachette eBooks sold via Amazon’s Kindle service.

Negotiations between the two companies broke down when Amazon demanded control of eBook pricing and wanted to take a greater share of the revenue. Amazon, in particular, wanted to sell the latest releases for no more than $10, a price point which it claimed would deliver the maximum revenue to both parties.

We’ve heard that this deal is favourable to authors, but we have no way of knowing right now

The row escalated to the point where Amazon pulled several Hachette books from its store and removed pre-order options for several of the publisher’s key titles, including J K Rowling’s The Silkworm (which was written under the pen name Robert Galbraith).

That was something of a PR own-goal for Amazon, which was subsequently petitioned by hundreds of authors – including John Grisham, Salman Rushdie and Stephen King – to stop holding writers hostage in its negotiations with the publisher.

Now it seems Amazon has blinked first to end the dispute, agreeing a deal that allows Hachette to set eBook prices, albeit one that includes “specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices”.

Hachette says the new contract will settle the matter for the foreseeable future. “This is great news for writers,” said Michael Pietsch, CEO of the Hachette Book Group. “The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. It gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of our most important bookselling partners.”

The Authors Guild has welcomed news of the settlement, but now wants the publisher to review how it compensates authors for eBook sales. “We welcome the end of the Amazon-Hachette stand-off as great news for Hachette authors, especially coming in advance of the holiday sales season,” said Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson.

“We’ve heard that this deal is favourable to authors, but we have no way of knowing right now. In the meantime, it’s our hope that Hachette — in light of the loyalty its authors have shown throughout this debacle — takes this opportunity to revisit its standard eBook royalty rate of 25% of the publisher’s net profits.”

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