Amazon's refusal to immediately provide Hachette novels is 'an exciting moment' for brick and mortar stores, say some booksellers, as online giant's conflict sends consumers to physical stores for Hachette's long-anticipated release of JK Rowling novel
June 20, 2014
– Amazon will ship Rowling book, eventually
The financial battle between Amazon and the Hachette Book Group is now swirling around J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter.
Rowling's new detective novel for grown-ups, The Silkworm (written under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith), went on sale Thursday, published by Little Brown, a division of Hachette.
But for weeks, Amazon, which handles about one-third of all book sales in the USA, has been discouraging sales of thousands of Hachette titles by delaying shipments, not offering discounts or recommending similar books as alternatives. It's part of a dispute over who gets what share of e-book sales.
Amazon also stopped taking pre-orders for some Hachette books, including The Silkworm..
Amazon's tactics changed Thursday. In the morning, its website said the estimated shipping time for The Silkworm was "1-2 months." It also said that a Kindle e-book could not be purchased. Copies, both print and digital, are immediately available from other stores and booksellers.
Later Thursday, Amazon, which is not answering questions about the dispute, said the e-book and other versions of The Silkworm were available. But the estimated shipping time for the hardcover was two to four weeks, On Friday, Amazon changed the estimated shipping time to one to two days.
Other retailers, including independent book stores, Barnes & Noble, and Wal-Mart have seized on the opportunity to sell The Sikworm immediately and often at lower prices.
As of Friday morning, The Silkworm was No. 1 on Barnes & Noble's bestseller list, but only No. 78 on Amazon's print list. A Hachette spokeswoman said it's too early to tell how much Amazon is hurting overall sales of the novel. Next Wednesday, USA TODAY will report the top five books on its weekly Best-Selling Books list. After Rowling was disclosed as the author of her first detective novel, The Cuckoo's Calling, last year, it flew to No. 1 on the list.
In Petoskey, Mich., Matt Norcross of McLean and Eakin Booksellers, said sales and pre-orders of The Silkworm at his store exceeded expectations.
"It's an exciting moment for brick and mortar (bookstores)," Norcross said. "We've taken this opportunity to highlight what we'll do for our customers that Amazon won't, apparently."
Customers buying The Silkworm at McLean and Eakin can also get a sticker being promoted by Stephen Colbert, who's published by Hachette. The sticker says, "I didn't buy it on Amazon."