In a stunning move that has launched a war of words—quite literally—Amazon has slowed down, and in many instances cut off, book sales from one of the world's biggest publishers, Hachette, including some of the world's most popular authors, including J.K. Rowling and James Patterson.
"How is this not extortion?" asked Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, another publisher under the gun.
This morning's New York Times reports that Amazon is "discouraging customers from buying titles from Hachette" and on May 22, "escalated the dispute by making it impossible to order Hachette titles being issued this summer and fall." The Times reported Amazon is seeking high payments from publishers to bolster Amazon's "anemic bottom line," so the online retailer is "holding books and authors hostage on two continents."
Meanwhile, the Times wrote that the Authors Guild accused the retailer of acting illegally:
"Amazon clearly has substantial market power and is abusing that market power to maintain and increase its dominance, which likely violates Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act," Jan Constantine, the Guild's general counsel, told the Times.
Meanwhile, Amazon is mum.
"We talk when we have something to say," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said at his company's annual meeting this past week.