Amazon feuds with Hachette, and now Disney?
Amazon and Disney have entered into an apparent contract dispute. On Sunday, copies of some Disney books were not available on Amazon. As the battle between Amazon and Hachette continues, has Amazon made a new enemy?
New York — Amazon.com Inc has halted pre-orders of some Disney movies,the Wall Street Journal reported, in what appears to be another contract dispute after the online retailer began a protracted spat with publisher Hachette Book Group this year.
Physical copies of titles such as "Maleficent" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" were unavailable for order on Amazon.com on Sunday. Digital copies of some of the movies in question were still available for pre-order.
Amazon.com did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on the report. A Disney spokesman had no comment.
Amazon has been waging a battle against Hachette, the fourth-largest U.S. book publisher, over the price the online retailer can charge for e-books. Hachette is owned by France's Lagardere.
A group called Authors United ran a two-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday, criticizingAmazon for halting pre-orders from some Hachette authors and slowing delivery of books by Hachette authors. The ad was signed by more than 900 writers, including Stephen King and Donna Tartt.
In response, Amazon.com's Books Team ran a message on a website on Friday evening reiterating its arguments for cheaper e-books, and suggested people email Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch. The company published Pietsch's email address and listed key points people might want to make.
Pietsch replied to every individual who emailed him saying that the dispute started because Amazon is seeking a lot more profit and even more market share at the expense of authors, bookstores and Hachette.
"Both Hachette and Amazon are big businesses and neither should claim a monopoly on enlightenment, but we do believe in a book industry where talent is respected and choice continues to be offered to the reading public," Pietsch wrote on Sunday, a copy of which was emailed to Reuters.
"Once again, we call on Amazon to withdraw the sanctions against Hachette's authors that they have unilaterally imposed, and restore their books to normal levels of availability."
Amazon says pricing e-books at $14.99 or $19.99 is too expensive. It argues that cheaper e-books sell more copies and so ultimately generate more revenue and more royalties for authors.
Last week The Christian Science Monitor reported that Amazon has hired a bevy of new lobbyists in recent months to expand the company's influence over politicians. During the first half of this year, Amazon paid $1.9 million in lobbying expenses and donated $174,000 to members of Congress. The lobbyists are working to get the Federal Aviation Administration to allow delivery drones and successfully lobbied the US Postal Service to allow limited Sunday deliveries.
Additionally, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made personal donations to Congress members, including Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) and to PACs. As the company continues to have tensions with Hachette and Disney, the company is trying to ensure it can find allies in Washington.
Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine and Ronald Grover in Los Angeles, and Ankush Sharma in Bangalore