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Amazon and Hachette call a truce in their e-book pricing war

Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
November 13, 2014
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Well, that was anticlimactic. Online retail titan Amazon and the publisher Hachette have been sniping at each other for months because they couldn't see eye to eye on how much e-books should cost (and how much revenue Amazon should get off of them). Now, just when it seemed like the war would stretch out even longer, both sides have announced that they've brokered a peace to end the Great Book War of 2014. The most frustrating part? Neither side seems willing to disclose the juiciest details of the deal. Still, the official PR blast mentions that Hachette got what it really wanted all along -- once the terms of the agreement take effect in early 2015, it "will have responsibility for setting consumer prices of its e-books, and will also benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers."

Amazon Kindle VP David Naggar said there were some "specific financial incentives" thrown into the mix that seem tailor-made to to keep Hachette from setting its prices too high, but the particulars -- like a good Raymond Chandler tome -- are shrouded in mystery. Oh, and Amazon's trollish tendency of pulling pre-orders and promotion pages for certain Hachette books? A thing of the past, at long last. That's great and all, but there's still one big question left unanswered: why now? It could be that Amazon was starting to feel the pinch from irate book fans who were saddened to see their favorite authors being screwed with by dint of which publisher they signed up with. Amazon's most recent quarterly financials also painted a surprisingly bland picture of its books business, too; as Time points out, the company's North American media sales were slower than they had been in five years. Either way, it's finally business as usual for these two again... at least until the next time their hard heads collide.

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