NPR logo Book News: Amazon Inks A Deal With A Publisher Not Named Hachette

Books

Book News: Amazon Inks A Deal With A Publisher Not Named Hachette

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

David Ryder/Getty Images
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
David Ryder/Getty Images

Amazon has reached a multiyear agreement with Simon & Schuster over the pricing of the publisher's print and digital books. Simon & Schuster, one of the "Big Five" U.S. publishing houses and a division of CBS Corp., agreed to the terms two months before its contract with Amazon was set to expire.

Although details on the deal remain slim, The Wall Street Journal reports that the publisher will retain the right to name its own prices for e-books. According to Business Insider, negotiations over the deal took just three short weeks — in stark contrast to Amazon's months-long duel with Hachette Book Group, another Big Five publisher, over e-book pricing.

In a letter to authors, obtained by The New York Times, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy called the deal "economically advantageous" for both parties, noting that "it maintains the author's share of income generated from e-book sales" ("with some limited exceptions," the letter adds).

In a statement released to NPR, an Amazon spokesperson said, "We are very happy with this agreement, as it allows us to grow our business with Simon & Schuster and help their authors reach an ever-wider audience." The full statement can be read at the Business Insider link above.

Beyond the scope of the deal itself, news of the agreement is likely to bear implications for the rest of the Big Five. Hachette's contract with Amazon expired in March and was briefly extended by Amazon into April, though no new contract has been signed since then. Amazon is also expected to negotiate new contracts with Penguin Random House, Macmillan and HarperCollins.

'DO NOT ENGAGE': Author Kathleen Hale's tale of trying to confront an outspoken GoodReads critic is both riveting and, now, a tad controversial. Brimming with desperation, cringe-inducing moments and a twist or two to top it all off, the essay is well worth a read. The Internet — much of it, at least — seems to agree, but that's about where the agreement ends. At the Los Angeles Times, Michael Schaub has a helpful catalog of the Internet's mixed reactions.

Article continues after sponsorship

A Pair of Literary Dream Dinners: In The Immortal Evening, out this week, Stanley Plumly details a dinner hosted by the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon and attended by William Wordsworth, John Keats and Charles Lamb — who, apparently, spent much of the night repeating "Diddle idle don / My son John / Went to bed with his breeches on" simply to annoy the government official in their midst. Meanwhile, The New Republic has dredged up memories of another dream meeting — an aging Walt Whitman with a young Oscar Wilde, whom Whitman said "had the good sense to take a fancy to me."