The Amazon War: A Rumpus Roundup


Amazon and Hachette Book Group have been locked in an epic battle over e-book pricing since early May. Amazon began by delaying shipments of Hachette books and then escalated to removing Hachette titles from the site entirely.

The leader of this rebellion is Hachette executive Michael Pietsch, once responsible for discovering and editing a little book titled Infinite Jest. And bestselling author and independent bookstore champion James Patterson has also weighed in on behalf of publishers.

Not everyone is siding with Hachette, though. Martin Shepard, cofounder of independent publisher The Permanent Press, defended Amazon, while Vanity Fair is blaming the trouble on our government’s failure to regulate Amazon five years ago.

Meanwhile, Walmart and Barnes and Noble have joined in the battle by offering Hachette books at a discount with the hope of converting new customers into long-term buyers. And of course the dispute has inspired future-of-publishing op-ed pieces like this at Huffington Post and this at USA Today.

In any event, this whole dispute is about money and ultimately, it might simply be because Amazon is broke.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →