As of today, Amazon’s crusade against book publisher Hachette is no longer an open secret — it’s outright confirmed. Shipments are being delayed, prices are elevated and some listings are unavailable altogether. But how extensive is the fallout? Here’s your comprehensive look at the carnage.
Hachette and its subsidiaries obviously have too many books — the company claimed today that 5000 were affected in total — for sale to take all of them into account. But we took a closer look at the pricing and availability of dozens of the publishing house’s recent hardcover releases, bestsellers and upcoming titles on Amazon compared to what you’ll find them for on its biggest online competitor, Barnes & Noble. The results ranged from mild to massacre.
There’s good news to be had if you’re a pulp fan; Hachette’s most popular offerings remain largely unaffected, and in a couple of instances even beat out BN’s pricing by a fistful of nickels.
Even here, though, you can see the trouble start to set in. The two most recent releases (Instinct and The Closer), both of which came out May 6, have had their availability pushed back one to three weeks for no reason other than Amazon’s obstinance. If you order them today from BN.com, they will ship within 24 hours.
If you’re looking for a Hachette book that came out in the last few months, you should avoid Amazon like the plague. The price differential between Amazon and BN ranges from six bucks to 10, which may not sound like a lot but amounts to a markup of about 30 per cent in most cases.
Even more problematic? The availability of the books you want to read. A third of these books are suffering from either delayed shipping or near-extinction. Again, the only reason you have to both pay full price and wait a month for Young Money is that Amazon is playing hardball. You can have it for much cheaper if you order from BN.
If you’ve noticed that things are getting progressively worse the more recent a title is, you’re not wrong. And a look at how Amazon is treating Hachett’s slate of upcoming releases is grim confirmation that things are only going to go downhill from here.
Markups on all of them, sure. To be expected! But more troubling is that half of Hachette’s marquee titles coming out in the next few months are altogether unavailable.
Yes, Amazon is a company that can sell whatever it wants however it wants to. But it’s chilling to look at just how broad its campaign against Hachette has become, and a reminder that when you consolidate selling power into the hands of one company, there’s only so much you can do when they decide to make you collateral damage.
There’s an easy answer, of course, which is just to go to Barnes & Noble or, better yet, your local independent bookseller for these titles. Better yet, go to them for all of your book needs until this anti-consumer muscle-flexing subsides. Amazon has every right to fight dirty. And you have every right to show them the consequences.