This post by William Ockham originally appeared on A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing on 7/13/14.
Everybody’s talking about Amazon’s latest move in the Amazon-Hachette kerfuffle and the reactions have been pretty predictable. Lots of confirmation bias going around. While the public broadsides, grand offers, and nasty anonymous leaks are full of sound and fury, I’m fond of looking for the truth in the silence. What the companies aren’t saying is as important to understanding the situation as what they are saying. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but neither side has denied any of the specific factual claims the other has made. In fact, if we read between the lines, we can cut through the noise and see what’s really happening. I have learned* the best way to do that is to make a timeline. Our brains have a tendency to remember the order in which we learned a set of facts and it has a hard to reassembling the chronological order of how things actually happened. We should be continually re-evaluating our understanding of this situation based on new information.
Recent statements from both sides have provided a lot more information about how this dispute got to this point. To avoid turning Joe’s blog into an academic article, I’m not going to footnote all of these events. If you want the source for a particular claim, just ask in the comments. My primary sources are the most recent Amazon-Hachette exchange and Michael J. Sullivan’s account of his interactions with Amazon and Hachette this year. If I have left off any significant events and gotten any of this wrong, please let me know in the comments [section on the original post]. I’m far more interest[ed] in getting this right than being right.
Early Jan 2014
Amazon makes the first move, sending an offer to Hachette. Based on Hachette leaks, we know that Amazon is offering a return to wholesale pricing.
7 Feb 2014
Amazon stops discounting Hachette titles.