The Amazon War: A Rumpus Roundup

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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 Rumpus Deputy Editor and founder of English Kills Review an online literary magazine focused on books, authors, and New York City. His writing has appeared in Little Fiction, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, Chicago Review of Books, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He holds a Master’s Degree in English from Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →