Agents have welcomed the end of the terms dispute between Amazon.co.uk and Hachette UK, despite unquantifiable short-term "damage" done to sales.
Earlier this week, Hachette c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson announced that an agreement had been reached with the online retailer. The dispute over terms had been running since early 2008 with some key Hachette frontlist and backlist titles being available on Amazon only through third-party sellers.
No details on the deal have been released. However, Curtis Brown, c.e.o. Jonathan Lloyd, welcomed the news and said "I'm sure honour was carried on both sides". He said the stand-off had been "very disruptive" adding it would be "sad" for such a scenario to arise again. Lloyd added: "In that sense, hopefully lessons have been learned on both sides, so future discussions can be settled in a more practical way."
Aitken Alexander Associates joint m.d. Clare Alexander applauded Hachette for its transparency in explaining to the author and agent community what was happening. She said: "It shows [Amazon's] preparedness to use quite heavy negotiating techniques . . . The problem is that, in this country, there are so few customers, which has given Amazon enormous negotiating power."
United Agents joint head of books Simon Trewin said the stance had been "very brave". He said: "For too long publishers have ceded power and control to the retailers and I think we were all pleased to have seen Tim making a stand. No doubt a number of authors have had book sales damaged dramatically over the year. But it's difficult to read anything more into it other than the fact the war is over—we don't know whether Hachette is the winner or the loser."