Home » Amazon, Big Publishing » Hachette ebook sales fall in wake of dispute with Amazon over pricing

Hachette ebook sales fall in wake of dispute with Amazon over pricing

5 August 2014

From The Guardian:

The Hachette publishing group has reported a fall in ebook sales as it continues its battle with Amazon over pricing.

. . . .

Lagardère, the French publishing company that owns Hachette, reported on Thursday that ebook sales in the US were down. Ebooks now make up 29% of adult book sales in this large market, down from 34% in June 2013.

The publisher said it had seen “a limited impact from Amazon’s punitive measures”, but added that the market for ebooks had reached a plateau.

Although Lagardère executives blamed a fall in the number of strong bestsellers for dragging down ebook sales, overall book sales in the US were up 5.6%, boosted by the sale of page-turners from Donna Tartt, former Navy seal Marcus Luttrell and Robert Galbraith, JK Rowling’s crime-writing nom de plume.

In the UK, where Amazon has not deployed the same tactics against publishers, Hachette’s ebook sales continued to grow.

Speaking on a conference call with market analysts, Dominique D’Hinnin, chief financial officer at Lagardère, played down the impact of the Amazon dispute. “Is there an impact in the Amazon’s relationship? Maybe, but it is hard to tell.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Amazon, Big Publishing

33 Comments to “Hachette ebook sales fall in wake of dispute with Amazon over pricing”

  1. Who hasn’t seen a fall in book sales lately?

    Summer.

    • My ebook sales dipped in June, but recovered in July. Opposite of last year, in which they surged in May and June, but dipped in July. But, yeah, summer.

      • Last summer I just happened to run a BB ad, and the tail saw me through the summer with fantastic sales! Hooray! So I was not prepared for the starkness of the usual Summer Slowdown in 2014. :D

        But I have some new promos coming out this month, so that should kick things back into gear. Sheesh, summertime.

    • Summer has dragged a bit – July was pretty dead. August seems better, but you never know.

      It is hard to read a tablet in the bright sunshine, so that may account for some of it. Kindles and Kobos are ok in the sun, but iPads are pretty hopeless. I don’t know about smart phones.

    • The July Smashwords sale insulated me from it last month. This month is back to being slow. :(

  2. So prices go up (since Amazon is honoring Hachette’s set prices, which are higher) and sales go down. Anyone surprised?

    I’m curious…several articles here at TPV have mentioned European laws that hamper Amazon’s ability to offer free shipping or to discount items offered for sale in the various Amazon websites. Does this mean that Amazon Germany and Amazon France, etc., featured higher book prices even before the dispute with Hachette?

  3. The publisher said it had seen “a limited impact from Amazon’s punitive measures”, but added that the market for ebooks had reached a plateau.

    Plateau…I can’t stop laughing…plateau!

    Hachette’s heads are still in the sand…

    • Tisk, tisk. The plateau is real.

      See? Here it is.

      • I’m laughing at the words “punitive measures”. If Amazon is selling without a contract, just what is punitive about the measures they have taken? I’m sure Amazon has figured out that it is in their best interest to keep selling Hachette books under the current scenario rather than not selling them at all. I’d just like to know if it’s more for financial reasons or customer service reasons.

      • OMG, Libbie! You just made me spew coffee!

        • Why would the negotiations affect Hachette’s ebooks sales. Amazon didn’t block their ebooks. B&N isn’t blocking their ebooks. Most folks out there don’t know about the Amazon-Hachette dispute.

          Hachette better look for another reason.

    • Funny how your sales “plateau” when your entire business strategy is to make them do exactly that.

    • Smart Debut Author

      Dear Big Publishing,

      Your pet “industry analysts” aren’t lying. Ebooks are indeed plateauing….

      For you.

      :D

  4. And yet the day before this article ran Hachette reported their revenues were up 5.6%.

  5. Speaking on a conference call with market analysts, Dominique D’Hinnin, chief financial officer at Lagardère, played down the impact of the Amazon dispute. “Is there an impact in the Amazon’s relationship? Maybe, but it is hard to tell.”

    That would mean it is also hard to tell if Hachette authors are being harmed.

    • Well-spotted.

      There is this. It may be hard for Legardere to tell because
      1) Amazon’s ploys make little difference to their bottom line
      or
      2) their accounting is such a mess that even they can’t know what it shows.

      • Smart Debut Author

        or…

        3) Hachette is lying.

        Their supposed “5.6 % growth” in the U.S. is only due to incorporating the Hyperion acquisition, and adding the Hyperion books into Hachette’s 2014 numbers.

        Who knows how many tens of millions worth of losses are hidden by that little accounting paper-shuffle… but even after folding in all of Hyperion’s sales, Hachette’s U.S. numbers are *only* up by 13 million or so relative to their Hyperion-less H1 2013 numbers.

  6. Wait. This is Amazon’s fault? Isn’t Hachette charging, on average, $14.99 for an ebook? Maybe that’s the problem, as more an more indie alternatives come along.

    Or maybe, as AuthorEarnings.com suggests, readers prefer indie ebooks.

  7. CFO translation:

    “Maybe, but it is hard to tell” means, “Of course it is, but we are doing everything we can to make sure no one can tell exactly how much so we can mitigate the impact on our stock price”.

  8. This is the part where I send Hachette a letter of condolence. I’m sorry for your loss.

    I’m so sad that Hachette is losing money, I’m going to go drink a half-gallon of lemon scented bleach.

  9. Hachette, honey? There’s a book of yours that I’d buy if it was priced, say $7.99 instead of $18.99 for the e-version. Think about it and get back to me.

    • Dear Hachette,

      I’m afraid your services are no longer required. But we’ve had some good times together, haven’t we?

      Well… not really. But it’s the thought that counts.

      I wish you luck in your… *gulp* …future endeavors?

      If you happen to see my agent, send her in next.

      And you can collect your last 57.5% check on the way out.

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