Amazon, Hachette End Bitter Book Dispute

SEATTLE (The Seattle Times/MCT) -

Amazon and the book publisher Hachette resolved their bitter dispute, reaching a multiyear agreement for e-book and print sales in the United States.

The companies, which issued a joint news release Thursday morning announcing the news, didn’t disclose terms of the deal. But executives from both companies expressed pleasure in getting it done.

“This is great news for writers,” Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said in a statement. “The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. It gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of our most important bookselling partners.”

Amazon Vice President David Naggar was equally effusive. “We are pleased with this new agreement as it includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices, which we believe will be a great win for readers and authors alike,” Naggar said in a statement.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the press release. Hachette did not respond to a request for comment.

The dispute centered on e-book pricing, and the companies said the new terms for pricing e-books would take effect early next year. The statement said that Hachette will have “responsibility for setting consumer prices of its e-books.”

The companies said that Hachette will also benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers, suggesting that Amazon is giving the publisher incentives to keep prices down.

When the dispute began this spring, Amazon removed many Hachette titles from its promotions. It also eliminated presale options for some of Hachette’s titles, and delayed the delivery of others. That raised the hackles of many prominent Hachette authors.

The companies said that Hachette books will now be “prominently featured in promotions.”

The dispute turned ugly shortly after it became public. Hundreds of authors added their names to an online letter criticizing Amazon for restricting access to Hachette titles.

Upset authors formed a group to battle Amazon, and had begun drafting a letter to the Justice Department that would have pressed trustbusters to investigate the retail giant for antitrust violations.

But a deal that Amazon cut with Simon & Schuster may have paved the way for the Hachette agreement to get done. Last month, the companies announced a deal, without announcing specific terms. In a joint statement, though, the companies used similar terms to describe their multiyear deal, saying that the agreement includes “financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers.”