Amazon stops some Disney movie preorders: WSJ

NEW YORK Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:18am EDT

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is silhouetted during a presentation of his company's new Fire smartphone at a news conference in Seattle, Washington June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is silhouetted during a presentation of his company's new Fire smartphone at a news conference in Seattle, Washington June 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Redmond

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc has halted pre-orders of some Disney movies, the Wall Street Journal reported, in what appears to be another contract dispute after the online retailer began a protracted spat with publisher Hachette Book Group this year.

Physical copies of titles such as "Maleficent" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" were unavailable for order on Amazon.com on Sunday. Digital copies of some of the movies in question were still available for pre-order.

Amazon.com did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on the report. A Disney spokesman had no comment.

Amazon has been waging a battle against Hachette, the fourth-largest U.S. book publisher, over the price the online retailer can charge for e-books. Hachette is owned by France's Lagardere.

A group called Authors United ran a two-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday, criticizing Amazon for halting pre-orders from some Hachette authors and slowing delivery of books by Hachette authors. The ad was signed by more than 900 writers, including Stephen King and Donna Tartt.

In response, Amazon.com's Books Team ran a message on a website (www.readersunited.com/) on Friday evening reiterating its arguments for cheaper ebooks, and suggested people email Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch. The company published Pietsch's email address and listed key points people might want to make. [ID:nL2N0QF0FJ]

Pietsch replied to every individual who emailed him saying that the dispute started because Amazon is seeking a lot more profit and even more market share at the expense of authors, bookstores and Hachette.

"Both Hachette and Amazon are big businesses and neither should claim a monopoly on enlightenment, but we do believe in a book industry where talent is respected and choice continues to be offered to the reading public," Pietsch wrote on Sunday, a copy of which was emailed to Reuters.

"Once again, we call on Amazon to withdraw the sanctions against Hachette's authors that they have unilaterally imposed, and restore their books to normal levels of availability."

Amazon says pricing e-books at $14.99 or $19.99 is too expensive. It argues that cheaper e-books sell more copies and so ultimately generate more revenue and more royalties for authors.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine and Ronald Grover in Los Angeles, and Ankush Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Alison Williams, Sonya Hepinstall and Gopakumar Warrier)

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Comments (4)
JL4 wrote:
I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong in this dispute, but I can tell you with certainty I won’t pay $15 to $20 for an e-book, so no one gets profit from me.

Aug 11, 2014 7:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
N226TK wrote:
Amazon Kindle (e-books) and subsidiary CreateSpace say quite clearly that the author (or publisher) sets the price. So what’s the problem with Hachette being outrageous in retail price?

It seems to me that if Hachette, based on Amazon’s experience, is willing to disregard popular price standards and charge more than they should, it’s their problem, not Amazon’s.

Amazon asserts that they’re trying to be nice to authors, but it sounds more to me that Amazon is trying to be nice to Amazon. If authors with Hachette are so aggrieved, they can go elsewhere — i.e., to Kindle Directs and/or CreateSpace — and publish for whatever price they want.

But I tend to think that those in the Hachette stable are likely to take their chances.

Aug 11, 2014 8:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Randy549 wrote:
Hachette and their authors have the right to charge whatever they want for their product. If the price is too high, customers will decline to purchase as is their right. If some stores decide not to carry Hachette’s products for whatever reason, Hachette has the right to develop other ways to market and sell their products.

Amazon has the right to choose which products to carry, or not carry, on their website. If Amazon’s customers don’t like the selection that Amazon offers or does not offer, they have the right to shop elsewhere, and history indicates that they will.

Aug 11, 2014 1:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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