walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Hachette low stock on some items at Amazon

Hat tip to the excellent Nate Hoffelder over at the Digital Reader:

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2014/05/09/is-amazon-pulling-dirty-tricks-with-hachettes-books-probably-not/

He is analyzing David Streitfeld's article in the New York Times (it's *feld, not *field, which is a minor point for me but probably important to the journalist; Hoffelder got it right in the piece from a year ago, which he links to in his article):

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/technology/hachette-says-amazon-is-delaying-delivery-of-some-books.html

Streitfeld has a helluva lede:

"Amazon has begun discouraging customers from buying books by Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, J. D. Salinger and other popular writers"

Really? And the basis for this assertion is that:

"A Hachette spokeswoman said on Thursday that the publisher was striving to keep Amazon supplied but that the Internet giant was delaying shipments “for reasons of their own.”" The spokeswoman is not anonymous, but named later in the article: "Sophie Cottrell", also saying: "“Amazon is holding minimal stock” and restocking some of Hachette’s books “slowly, causing ‘available 2-4 weeks’ messages.”"

As Nate notes, the listed titles could be low stock for other reasons (available for a penny used, available with Prime shipping, used from marketplace sellers for $4.99, in the case of Robin Roberts' memoir, extremely popular and maybe just plain selling out too fast, etc.).

While I absolutely believe that Amazon could be running stock low strategically (to pressure Hachette to accept lower margins, so Amazon can make more money/the same amount of money while selling it for a lower list price/prevent anyone from making any money by selling absolutely every copy that sells because they are insanely cheaper than everywhere else and not even breaking even), I would like to add another possible explanation to the mix: maybe Amazon would rather you buy the kindle edition.

I will further add that while Hachette thinks it is getting product to Amazon quickly enough, the spokeswoman does say they are "striving", which sort of makes me wonder. I have some teacher friends who assign projects that are due between whenever and some date near the end of the term. They'll grade and return the projects that are turned in early, but a lot of the kids will turn them all in right at the last minute and then whine because there is a delay in getting the grade back. I do sort of have to wonder which kind of project-turning-in-kid Hachette is, especially when it comes to NYPD Red 1 (reissue) & 2, and the Roberts' memoir. I would not normally "parse" a word like "striving" so meticulously, but this is a _spokeswoman_ for a _publisher_ so you sort of want to believe that when they say strive, they mean that they are working really hard under difficult circumstances and are trying to gain sympathy for the fact that they're slipping a bit in the struggle.
Tags: e-book coverage
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