Amazon customers are now able to purchase J.K. Rowling’s new book “The Silkworm” (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). It’s just hard to say when they’ll receive the novel.
“The Silkworm” has become caught up in the disagreement between Amazon and publisher Hachette, which resulted in Hachette titles taking longer to ship to Amazon customers than books from other publishers. When customers began noticing that titles like Stephen Colbert’s “America Again” were listed as taking between three and five weeks to ship, Hachette spokesperson Sophie Cottrell told the New York Times that Amazon was delaying books “for reasons of their own” and that there was no lack of stock on their end. “We are satisfying all Amazon’s orders promptly,” Cottrell said at the time.
An anonymous Hachette staff member recently told the NYT that the fight between the online bookselling behemoth and Hachette is because Amazon is "demanding payments for a range of services, including the pre-order button, personalized recommendations and a dedicated employee at Amazon for Hachette books. This is similar to so-called co-op arrangements with traditional retailers, like paying Barnes & Noble for placing a book in the front of the store…. [Amazon] is very inventive about what we'd call standard service. They're teasing out all these layers and saying, 'If you want that service, you'll have to pay for it.' In the end, it's very hard to know what you'd be paying. Hachette has refused, and so bit by bit, they've been taking away these services, like the pre-order button, to teach Hachette a lesson.”
However, has Amazon now made a slight concession? Before “Silkworm” was released on June 19, the novel was unavailable for pre-order – customers had to sign up for e-mail notification as to when the book would be made available. Starting on June 19, Amazon customers were able to purchase hardback copies of the novel, though the Amazon site noted that the books could take one to two months to reach readers, according to USA Today. The e-book version was still listed as unavailable.
The shipping time continued to decrease on June 19 and June 20, finally ending at one to two days on June 20, and an e-book was made available later in the day on June 19, according to USA Today.
But the shipping time for “Silkworm” has now gone back up to two to four weeks, an estimation that is similar to shipping times for other Hachette titles like Stephen Colbert’s “America Again” (three to five weeks) and James Patterson’s “Alex Cross, Run” (two to four weeks).The e-book remains available. Meanwhile, other Hachette titles that – like “Silkworm” – had been unavailable (for instance, “The Girls of August” by Anne Rivers Siddons and “Hope to Die” by James Patterson) can now be purchased ahead of time by customers.
Of course, it’s difficult to say whether these are meaningful moves considering Amazon could change their pre-ordering options or shipping times within the next five minutes. Stay tuned.