A number of high-profile writers such as James Patterson and Malcolm Gladwell and publishers have accused the online bookseller Amazon of acting like Vladimir Putin and the Mafia. Why? Because in negotiations with international conglomerate Hachette, it's pushing a e-book sales model that would keep prices lower than what publishers think you should pay.
There's no question that Amazon is playing hardball: It's made it harder for customers to buy Hachette books and it's not offering discounts. Then again, just a couple of years ago, Hachette and four other major publishers settled a suit about fixing prices with Apple specifically to screw Amazon.
Nick Gillespie argues that whatever else we can say about the ongoing (and confidential) negotiations between Amazon and Hachette that will likely set industry-wide patterns, Amazon has always been solid on serving its shoppers first.
This fight between self-evidently evil Amazon and kind-hearted, literature-loving Hachette isn't about the future of civilization itself…. It's really about how much readers are going to be asked to pay for titles coming out of big publishing companies. Amazon's track record on that score is pretty damn great: It always wants the price to be lower. That sucks for publishers and authors, and maybe even for Amazon's bottom line. But it's worked pretty nicely for readers so far.