The world’s largest online retailer is already feuding with Hachette Book Group and Bonnier Media. CBS Corp. (CBS)’s Simon & Schuster and News Corp. (NWSA)’s HarperCollins will soon come up for renegotiation, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the contracts are private. That means best-selling authors such as HarperCollins’ Veronica Roth, writer of the Divergent trilogy, and Simon & Schuster’s Michael Lewis could be entangled in the controversy.
Hachette’s tussle will determine whether publishers can gain leverage against Amazon, the biggest seller of e-books, at a time when demand for digital tomes is surging and physical books are losing ground. Amazon is seeking a bigger cut of the retail price of a title so it can continue discounting e-books and boost margins, three people said. To ratchet up the pressure on Hachette, Amazon started blocking some book pre-orders and delaying shipments — affecting titles such as “The Silkworm,” J.K. Rowling’s new novel written under a pseudonym.
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Simon & Schuster’s Michael Lewis.
“It’s a measure of their confidence that they are doing this,” Roxana Robinson, head of the Authors Guild, a New York-based nonprofit that represents writers, said of Amazon. “It demonstrates that they feel they have the dominant market position.”