Is the Hachazon War over?
Update: according to Amazon, the answer is no. After I wrote this, I saw that Amazon has posted a statement on this issue in the Kindle forum:
Before I address the content, let me first say that I think it is a very good thing that they have said something.
Amazon often keeps things quite private…famously, they don’t release sales figures for Kindle devices or e-books (except sometimes), for example.
does not express a unique position:
“If Amazon thinks I don’t care about its silence, it’s wrong. I take it personally that the company doesn’t think it owes me even a half-baked explanation for why I can’t buy some books from it.”
Now that Amazon has ended that silence, what did they say?
“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.”
It is an intriguingly “high road” post. Where Hachette’s public statements seemed to suggest they were baffled by what could be seen as Amazon’s bad behavior, Amazon defends Hachette:
“Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives.”
I think Amazon makes a mistake in the post in explaining what a tiny part of their business this is. People extrapolate from the specific to the general, not the other way around. In other words, they will assume that a broader class has the same characteristics as an individual case they know well. You can tell someone that 99% of snakes never bite anyone, but if they’ve been bitten by one snake once, that’s going to matter more to them.
What solution does Amazon suggest?
“ 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.”
When I wrote what follows on Tuesday night, I suggested that it looked like maybe things were getting better in the Hachazon War. Amazon suggests in the post that they don’t see it that way:
“Even more unfortunate, though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.”
Looking at it again this morning, I’m seeing about the same results as I did last night…so my optimistic thought that I was perhaps seeing an indicator that the dispute was ending is not being validated.
What follows is my original post:
Interestingly, some of the books which were previously affected by the Hachette/Amazon dispute appear to be unaffected today.
In this search for
one of the big Hachette imprints, I’m seeing some which had been…made inconvenient, no longer having that issue.
For example, you can get Robin Roberts’ book right away now.
Now, I’m still seeing some which are affected…J.K. Rowling’s next book (writing as Robert Galbraith) still says you can sign up to be notified when it is available.
My guess is that they may be just updating everything after an agreement…let’s take a look at it again in the morning.
This has been a messy, messy disagreement, with a lot of bad public relations out of it (on both sides, but I would say I saw a lot more people not liking Amazon’s tactics).
I have expressed my unease with more than one outlet refusing to carry books when the disagreement is with the supplier or publisher of that book…as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager myself, I understand making a principled stand not to carry something, or an economic decision that it won’t sell…but trying to go after a business partner (and Hachette and Amazon do work together…that’s what I mean by partners, not anything legally organizational) by doing something that broadly inconveniences your customers doesn’t seem like good business to me.
Customers don’t generally understand the deep reasons why you don’t have something and someone else has it sooner and/or cheaper…they just know you don’t have it when they want it.
Hoping this is over!
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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.