Online shopping giant Amazon and publisher Hachette entered into a months-long e-book pricing war, which can be termed as the toughest battle of the moment for the publishing world.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, both Amazon and Hachette are engaged in heated negotiations over e-book pricing. While the e-commerce giant argued that prices of the e-books by Hachette should be lowered to USD 9.99, the publisher has been pushing for higher prices.
As Amazon has removed pre-order buttons and discounts from Hachette titles, the fight has now become public.
The customers had a tough time searching for Disney movies on the Amazon portal as the physical copies of its several films including Maleficent, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and others were unavailable for order. But the digital copies of some of the movies remained available for pre-order.
Amazon started a group called Readers United to counter Authors United and build pressure on Hachette to accept its demand.
Criticizing publisher Hachette on Readers United, Amazon published a letter on Friday asking its supporters to send emails to Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch to defend its point.
The letter reads:
“We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.”
The online shopping giant further defended its argument citing 1984 author George Orwell.
In the letter, Amazon writes, “The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if ‘publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them. Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.”
But The New York Times in its report said that Orwell was misunderstood by Amazon. The NYT said Orwell actually liked Penguin paperbacks.
Writing for the New English Weekly on March 5, 1936, Orwell had mentioned, “ The Penguin Books are splendid value for sixpence, so splendid that if the other publishers had any sense they would combine against them and suppress them.”
Amazon’s argument for less expensive e-books was further refuted by NYT by Orwell’s write-up:
“It is of course a great mistake to imagine that cheap books are good for the book trade. Actually it is just the other way about … The cheaper books become, the less money is spent on books.”
The NYT said that Orwell was never opposed to paperback books. Instead, he was not in support of lowering book prices.