For all the articles I’ve read about Amazon’s hardball tactics in their battle with Hachette, I have seen little discussion of the risk it’s taking. They are obviously leaving an opening for the competition. The Times finally ran an article about what’s happening on that front. An independent Seattle bookstore hand delivered copies of J. K. Rowling’s new book along with a “Hachette swag bag.” And the big vendors were also taking advantage:
On Walmart.com on Thursday, “The Silkworm” was one of three books featured on the books’ home page at 40 percent off, or $16.80. Walmart has also promoted the book with ads on Facebook and through mass emails to its customers promoting Hachette books. On Barnes & Noble’s site, “The Silkworm” was one of four of “the week’s biggest books.” A digital edition for the Nook was $11.99. It was Barnes & Noble’s No. 2 best-seller on Thursday. On Bookish, the website that the major publishers started last year to combat Amazon, it was the first “new and notable” release featured, and was selling for $19.60.
This doesn’t mean Amazon will back down, or that it won’t win. But it surely is taking a risk.
“Who’s going to blink first?” mused Mr. Sindelar, the independent bookseller. “That’s what everyone wants to know. I have no idea. But a lot of our customers told us they were buying from us explicitly as a protest against Amazon. We live in Seattle, where people go to farmers’ markets. They don’t want to limit the diversity of where they shop. I think this has helped people realize that if Amazon is the only option, that’s putting way too much power in one company.”