Book publisher Hachette says working to resolve Amazon dispute

Wed May 28, 2014 8:16pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Hachette said on Wednesday it plans to work to resolve a contract dispute with Amazon (AMZN.O) after the online retailer said it was preparing for a long battle with the book publisher.

Hachette Book Group said in a statement it would "spare no effort to resume normal business relations with Amazon but under terms that value appropriately for the years ahead the author's unique role in creating books, and the publisher's role in editing, marketing, and distributing them, at the same time that it recognizes Amazon's importance as a retailer and innovator."

Details of the row are still unknown but several media reports indicate it is over the pricing of e-books. Neither company would outline the specifics.

Amazon posted a statement on Tuesday: "Though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon."

Hachette, the fourth largest book publisher in the United States, is owned by French media group Lagardere (LAGA.PA). Its CEO Arnaud Nourry said on Wednesday he hopes for an early end to the dispute, adding that it should not affect online sales this year.

Amazon has been buying fewer print books from Hachette and last week removed an option to pre-order Hachette titles that will be published in the future. These include "The Silkworm", an upcoming novel written by author of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling, under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

Amazon said in its statement that customers looking to buy one of the affected titles should "purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors."

Amazon said it would put up half the money for a fund to help offset the loss in royalties to Hachette authors as a result of the disagreement if Hachette pays for the other half.

Hachette said it would discuss Amazon's ideas for compensating authors after such an agreement is reached, and would be happy to discuss its ideas with Amazon about compensating authors for "the damage its demand for improved terms may have done them."

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Diane Craft)

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