By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products, Hachette has allowed Amazon to usurp its relationship
with its customers. By Cory Doctorow
|Scooped by Artur Alves|
«For some three weeks now, books from the Hachette publishing group – one of the "big five" publishers who dominate the globe – have been largely unavailable through Amazon.com. Amazon has taken away the pre-order buttons on forthcoming Hachette titles, and current Hachette titles are either not for sale (Amazon helpfully recommends used copies from its reseller network, as well as similar books from competing publishers), or are listed as being out of stock for the next several weeks.
The action was precipitated by the failure of Amazon and Hachette to come to terms on their next ebook sales-deal. Amazon is far and away the most successful ebook retailer in the world, and Hachette, like all the major publishers, depends on ebook revenue as a key piece of its bottom line. As the dispute drags on, it's becoming clear that Hachette needs Amazon more than Amazon needs Hachette.
Hachette, more than any other publisher in the industry, has had a single minded insistence on DRM since the earliest days. It's likely that every Hachette ebook ever sold has been locked with some company's proprietary DRM, and therein lies the rub.
It is an own-goal masterstroke. It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can't afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion's share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon's DRM.