Limitations HAVE been imposed on book publisher Hachette on Amazon, the retailer has admitted.
It was reported yesterday that Amazon had removed pre-order buttons, increased prices and extended delivery times on the publisher’s products in an attempt to exert pressure in a contract dispute.
“We are currently buying less (print) inventory and ‘safety stock’ on titles from the publisher, Hachette, than we ordinarily do, and are no longer taking pre-orders on titles whose publication dates are in the future,” Amazon admitted.
“These changes are related to the contract and terms between Hachette and Amazon. Unfortunately, despite much work from both sides, we have been unable to reach mutually-acceptable agreement on terms. Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives. Nevertheless, the two companies have so far failed to find a solution.
“Negotiating with suppliers for equitable terms and making stocking and assortment decisions based on those terms is one of a bookseller's, or any retailer's, most important jobs. Suppliers get to decide the terms under which they are willing to sell to a retailer. It's reciprocally the right of a retailer to determine whether the terms on offer are acceptable and to stock items accordingly.
“A retailer can feature a supplier's items in its advertising and promotional circulars, ‘stack it high’ in the front of the store, keep small quantities on hand in the back aisle, or not carry the item at all, and bookstores and other retailers do these every day. When we negotiate with suppliers, we are doing so on behalf of customers. 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.”
The retailer also tried to contextualise the disruption, no doubt responding to accusations that it is placing its own corporate interest above the interests of its customers, and attacked the media’s coverage of the kerfuffle.
“If you order 1,000 items from Amazon, 989 will be unaffected by this interruption,” it added. “If you do need one of the affected titles quickly, we regret the inconvenience and encourage you to purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors.
“This topic has generated a variety of coverage, presumably in part because the negotiation is with a book publisher instead of a supplier of a different type of product. Some of the coverage has expressed a relatively narrow point of view.”