Marvel escapes from the jaws of Amazon-Hachette dispute; Yen press not so lucky

For the last few weeks, a war has been brewing between Amazon and book publishing giant Hachette, which publishes Yen Press, and distributes Marvel’s graphic novels to the book trade. At stake: the trade terms between the two companies as Amazon is trying to make more money (something it actually doesn’t do too much of) and Hachette fighting back against what it saw as unfavorable terms. While this battle has been going on for a while, it wasn’t always public as upsetting Amazon wasn’t on everyone’s to do list. Now the war has gone public, and Amazon’s brutal strong arm tactics are pretty obvious: you can no longer pre-order many Hachette titles on Amazon, and discount have shrunk for the books you can order. Even those on sale have long wait times. Pretty nasty stuff, and now you see what some industry observers shuddered when Comixology was purchased by Amazon.

ICv2 was been tracking how this affects publishers, and at first Yen Press and even Marvel were caught in the fray, with many Marvel titles unavailable or slow to ship. However, a more recent check, reveals that Marvel titles are generally available again, while the pressure on Yen has gotten more acute:

Amazon’s relationship with Marvel appears to be back to normal.  All of the titles that were listed with long shipping delays two weeks ago not list Amazon’s customarily prompt shipping turnarounds.  And discounts also appear to now be in a more normal range on Marvel titles.  We also looked at a number of titles due for release in the coming months, including several Guardians of the Galaxy volumes, and found that pre-order listings were normal and offering shipment on the release date.

Yen Press, on the other hand, is now the victim of even more aggressive Amazon tactics to suppress its sales.  Two upcoming Yen manga launches, Gou-Dere Sora Nagihara and Love at Fourteen (see “Yen Press Announces New Manga”), are listed as “currently unavailable” on Amazon, but are being offered on other sites such as Barnes & Noble’s.  Amazon’s backlist availability remains delayed on many Yen volumes.  Not all Yen pre-orders are unavailable; Amazon is taking pre-orders for High School DXD Vol.1 for release this week.

ICv2 speculates that putting the onus on publishers Hachette merely distributes was counter productive; or Marvel may have made its own deal.

If all this sounds very medieval in its heavy handedness, it is. But that’s Why Amazon is as feared by suppliers as it is loved by customers.



  1. Johnathan Black says

    “Even Amazon knows you don’t mess with the Mouse.”

    I wouldn’t have worded it that way, but… yeah. Amazon has to negotiate with Disney for programming on Amazon Prime. Putting the brakes on sales of Disney owned Marvel books will not strengthen Amazon’s hand in trying to get a deal. I guess someone at Amazon finally realized this.

  2. Pedro Bouça says

    Marvel has an easy life, I would like to know what happened between Amazon and UK publisher Rebellion (you know, the guys who publish 2000 AD). All of their comics on preorder have NO discounts at all – and the one published on the last few months have minuscule discounts (10% or less). Interestingly enough, the older stuff (published over an year ago) keeps the higher discounts.

    That combined with Amazon UK new policy of not giving free shipping outside the UK has pretty much put a stop on my UK comic buys – and I DO need to buy that stuff, since I’m the brazilian Judge Dredd Megazine translator! Without the discounts, the shipping costs get way too high for me.

    What happened? Why do the IDW Dredd books (that need to come all the way from the US) get much bigger discounts than the actual british Dredd books?

  3. Dave Hartley says

    Amazon statement on the dispute :

    Even more unfortunate, though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.


    When we negotiate with suppliers, we are doing so on behalf of customers. Negotiating for acceptable terms is an essential business practice that is critical to keeping service and value high for customers in the medium and long term.

  4. Johnny Memeonic says

    and I DO need to buy that stuff, since I’m the brazilian Judge Dredd Megazine translator! Without the discounts, the shipping costs get way too high for me.

    Your story doesn’t make sense. Why would an official paid translator not be sent the material they work on for free by the publisher?

  5. Torsten Adair says

    Most (All?) of the Hachette distributed publishers are being sold directly and discounted from Amazon, not just Marvel.

    Perhaps Hachette, like Diamond, acts like an agent, taking their cut automatically, regardless of what an account’s terms.

    So, how does Marvel’s Hachette rate compare to Marvel’s Diamond Comics rate? Amazon does have an account with Diamond… the sale dates correspond to the comics shops, not book stores. (Usually two to four weeks before.) (They also have titles not distributed to bookstores.)

  6. Pedro Bouça says

    “Your story doesn’t make sense. Why would an official paid translator not be sent the material they work on for free by the publisher?”

    Two things: I do get it on digital, but I find paper much easier to work with. Also, I help the editors select the stuff to be published. You don’t think I could ask the publisher for a complete run of 2000 AD, do you?

    Besides questioning my story, do you have anything constructive to add?

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