Caught in a month-long publishing dispute between Amazon.com and Hachette Book Group are e-book authors, who are now being offered by Amazon the entire 100 percent of revenue from sales of their digital books.
The proposal was rejected by Hachette on Tuesday, calling it suicidal—a response which Amazon meanwhile called a "baloney" since the former is part of global conglomerate worth $10 billion.
"It wouldn't be 'suicide.' They can afford it. What they're really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage. All the while, they are stalling and refusing to negotiate, despite the pain caused to their authors. Our offer is sincere. They should take us up on it," Amazon said.
Hachette asked Amazon instead to instantly withdraw imposed sanctions on its e-books.
"Amazon has just sent us a brief proposal. We invite Amazon to withdraw the sanctions they have unilaterally imposed, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith and with the hope of a swift conclusion," it said.
Recall that the dispute is about how much Amazon can put as price tag for e-books. The e-commerce company wants to lower prices of these digital books and to have greater share from the revenues.
Amazon was said to have offered a deal in April and May, but Hachette rejected both deals. In January, Amazon tried again to negotiate a new contract terms with Hachette but received no response from them.
Because of this, Amazon went ahead and cut back its print inventory and minimized discounts posted on websites. It also delayed the shipment or delivery of a number of Hachette e-book titles as well as popular print versions. There was even a time when it took off the pre-order option for J.K. Rowling’s "The Silkworm." Other well-known authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and James Patterson were also caught in between the ongoing dispute.
Yet in a letter sent to some agents and authors, Amazon offered a proposal that would give authors the entire revenue from e-book sales, dropping its supposed shares and that of Hachette. The proposal was sent to the authors prior to its negotiation with Hachette.
"If we sell a book at $9.99, the author would get the full $9.99, many multiples of what they would normally get," David Naggar, vice president of Kindle content at Amazon, wrote in a letter sent to e-book authors.
In a regular set-up, e-book sales will be subdivided in agreed-upon percentages among Amazon, Hachette and digital authors.
Research says Amazon’s proposal tries to regain the support of digital authors from Hachette who have expressed disappointment over becoming the collateral damage in the dispute. A petition, spearheaded by an author named Douglas Preston, was signed by hundreds of authors insisting the two involved parties should come to an agreement.
"Without taking sides on the contractual dispute between Hachette and Amazon, we encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business," read [pdf] the petition.
Further research indicates that some analysts think the revenue loss from e-book sales of Amazon would create a huge impact on Hachette, of which 60 percent of its U.S. sales in 2013 were attributed to Amazon.