Amazon, Hachette end months-long dispute

Hillel Italie
Associated Press

New York — One of publishing’s nastiest, most high-profile conflicts, the monthslong standoff between and Hachette Book Group, is ending.

Amazon and Hachette announced a multiyear agreement Thursday. With e-book revenues reportedly the key issue, Amazon had removed pre-order tags for Hachette books, reduced discounts and slowed deliveries. Those restrictions are being lifted immediately, according to the announcement.

“This is great news for writers. 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,” Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch said in a statement.

“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,” said David Naggar, vice president for Kindle, Amazon’s e-book store and device.

The agreement takes effect early next year.

The Amazon-Hachette dispute had dominated publishing headlines and conversations for much of the year. James Patterson, John Green and hundreds of authors had condemned Amazon’s actions, and Stephen Colbert had mocked the online retailer. Meanwhile, Hugh Howey, J.A. Konrath and other writers published by Amazon had blamed Hachette and praised Amazon for keeping prices low and allowing authors unhappy with traditional publishers to release their work elsewhere.

Neither side had seemed to benefit. Hachette sales on, the country’s biggest bookseller, had dropped sharply. Amazon, meanwhile, issued a disappointing earnings report last month, although the impact of Hachette books was unclear.

Hachette, whose authors include Patterson and Donna Tartt, was among five publishers sued in 2012 by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly fixing e-book prices. The publishers, who had worried that Amazon was charging too little for e-books, settled and were required to negotiate new deals with Amazon and other retailers.

Under the new agreement, Hachette set prices for e-books, “and will also benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers.”

Amazon last month reached a multiyear deal with Simon & Schuster, another publisher that was sued in 2012 and eventually settled.