Amazon, the world's biggest bookseller, and Hachette Book Group, a book publisher, have been aggressively negotiating over the price and profit margins of e-books. Authors have felt the sting, with books either not being sold or facing such long shipping times that it discourages people from buying the books.
Sources tell The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that Amazon has sent a letter to authors and their agents about the offer the company made to Hachette last month. This latest offer includes a provision that gives an e-book's writer 100 percent of the profits from the sale of the e-book.
This offer seems to indicate that Amazon wants to take writers out of the equation and focus on other aspects of the deal with Hachette.
That's not how some people see it, such as the Authors Guild.
"If Amazon wants to have a constructive conversation about this, we're ready to have one at any time," Roxana Robinson, the Guild's president, said in a statement to the Times. "But this seems like a short-term solution that encourages authors to take sides against their publishers. It doesn't get authors out of the middle of this -- we're still in the middle. Our books are at the center of this struggle."
Amazon states it will no longer use draconian measures with Hachette books and e-books if the offer is accepted. This would free authors from the pain they are feeling due to their books being unsold or delayed. But Amazon claims that Hachette has responded to the current offer, though it has been a month since the company was sent said offer on June 5.
And the e-book dispute may get worse soon. HarperCollins is reportedly going to be renegotiating its agreements with Amazon later this year. Before things can go south with the online book seller, HarperCollins has updated its website so it is selling books and e-books. Will other book publishers follow suit so they don't have to be at the bookseller's mercy? And aren't writers hurt by a huge drop in sales? In the meantime, readers are just as hurt as they wait for negotiations between Amazon and Hachette to conclude.