Amazon and Hachette

Amazon and Hachette are currently in a bit of a turf war on what they expect from each other with regards to ebooks an pricing. The TL;DR version is “Amazon thinks Hachette are grubby moneypinchers (read: wants more money), Hachette thinks Amazon are thieving scumbags (read: wants more money)”.

The thing is that Amazon has now escalated this to a shooting war. They officially declared that Amazon is now:

  1. Not selling ebooks from Hachette
  2. Not stocking supplies for Hachette physical books
  3. Not allowing preorders for Hachette books

This leads, in term, to following customer effects:

  1. Most Kindle users won’t be reading Hachette ebooks (due to a medium-height walled garden)
  2. All Hachette books will be ordered on demand from the publisher, making the usual one to two day deliveries of Amazon utopic

Amazon actually encourages people to use their competitors to buy Hachette books. Many people think that Amazon is shooting themselves in the foot with this tactic, as they’re just excluding themselves from the potential revenue.

What people aren’t actually considering is that the humongous spread of Kindles makes getting a Hachette eBook for your average customer neigh-on impractical. They have a lot of books in their Kindle library; the advantages of the “instant buy, instant availability” system is a constant fact for Kindle users. Of course they could try to get a DRM-free eBook (which, depending on your regional market, is a hassle), but Hachette themselves is only offering it with Adobe DRM, so that’s a no-go for Kindles.

So, if you really want that book offered by Hachette, and own a Kindle, you either have to

  1. Buy a hardcopy version
  2. Get another expensive ereader

(Well, or maybe get a mobile app, but that’s a huge YMMV point).

So, imagine you just want to read a book right now. The Amazon storefront doesn’t even show the books as available. Will you order a paperback? No. Will you, on mobile, hassle yourself with getting a copy that might work on your computer? No. You’ll just buy another book.

And that’s where the power of this boycott lies.