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.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.