Hachette Book Group, a leading publisher, alleges that a trade dispute with e-retailer Amazon is responsible for the delay in shipment of several of its older book titles.
For the uninitiated, New York-based Hachette publishes the works of leading authors like Malcolm Gladwell and JD Salinger. The publishing firm claims that even though Amazon is completing the orders timely, the e-retailer is keeping "minimal stock" of the titles and is restocking the inventory of some books leisurely. Due to this slow restocking what has happened is that for some books customers have to wait nearly two to four weeks for their order to arrive.
"We have been asked legitimate questions about why many of our books are at present marked out of stock with relatively long estimated shipping times on the Amazon website, in contrast to immediate availability on other websites and in stores," said Sophie Cottrell, a Hachette spokeswoman, to the New York Times. "We are satisfying all Amazon's orders promptly."
With Amazon trying to muscle its way, unhappy authors have taken to Twitter to express their resentment and condemn the e-retailers tactics.
"Like all repressive regimes, Amazon wants to completely control your access to books," tweeted Sherman Alexie.
Amazon's tactics also include charging more for books published by Hachette or suggesting that customers may enjoy an alternate title from another author. If customers still choose to stick to the Hachette-published book, then Amazon says it will take weeks to deliver the same.
The reason for the Amazon-Hachette spat is believed to be failed negotiations. Apparently, Amazon wanted better contract terms and Hachette was not agreeable so the former began deploying such tactics to cut off the latter.
Authors on their part are also dependent on Amazon and have suffered at the e-retailers hands.
Marla Heller, a Hachette author, who wrote "The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution," has revealed that the e-retailers' actions have "dramatically impacted" the sales of her book. Per Heller, Amazon increased the purchase price of "The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution" on March 19 by $8 and then started recommending other books on the subject which cost less.
"Then they let my book go out of stock," revealed Heller to New York Times via an email. "When this problem started, my book was ranked in the top 300 on Amazon. It has since dropped to as low as the top 3,000. While this may be a dispute between an internet giant and a major publisher, it is the authors who will pay the price."
The Authors Guild reveals that it has got nearly 15 complaints from Hachette authors for over 150 titles.