Coronavirus (COVID-19) information: All courses at all locations are available as live online classes. Limited in-person classes in some locations. Our offices remain open. Learn more.


Amazon ups the stakes in ebook dispute with publishers

  • Published on May 24, 2014
Amazon ups the stakes in ebook dispute with publishers

Amazon is showing how much of a powerful force they are in the book market. In an effort to extract more money from publisher Hachette, Amazon has started to list some books as unavailable, even though they are widely available from other retailers, or completely removed pages promoting the books. An upcoming title from Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling is unavailable for preorder, and Amazon is slowing the shipping of books from publisher’s from whom they want to get more money.

Hachette is no small publisher, they release books under the brands, known as imprints, of Grand Central Publishing, Orbit and Little, Brown. Some of the biggest modern authors are published by Hachette, including James Patterson who described Amazon’s dispute as “a war” in a recent New York Times piece.

The Authors Guild has weighed-in on the manner, accusing Amazon of acting illegally, and using their monopoly-like power in the book industry. Jan Constantine, the general counsel for the Author’s Guild said, “Amazon clearly has substantial market power and is abusing that market power to maintain and increase its dominance, which likely violates Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act”. Amazon is also being accused of using similar tactics against publisher Bonnier Media Group in Germany.

As an organization that helps publishers create digital books with our ebook training classes, and efficiently produce book layouts with InDesign courses, we work with many of the largest publishers. Each publisher invests in developing writers, editing manuscripts, and producing layouts. As more books from all publishers are distributed through Amazon, they are finding it difficult when this single source demands a bigger piece of the pie. Other retailers, such as Books-a-million are stepping in and offering discounts on Hachette’s books, looking to profit from Amazon’s decision to stop or delay selling these titles. As the battle between Amazon and Hachette rages on, many authors and publishers are anxiously watching to see the outcome.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.