PRH UK and Amazon facing terms dispute

PRH UK and Amazon facing terms dispute

Penguin Random House UK and Amazon are in dispute over terms, with a new contract under negotiation.

If a deal is not reached Amazon could begin to pull or downgrade the availability of PRH titles from its ecommerce channels as it did with Hachette Book Group USA titles last year. With a number of PRH titles in Amazon's current bestseller chart, there is no indication as yet that Amazon is ratcheting up the pressure on PRH UK.

While neither side has confirmed the terms under dispute, PRH said that it had "no intention whatsoever of ceasing to sell [its] print or digital titles on Amazon"; Amazon spokesman Tarek El-Hawary, in an emailed response to Recode, stated: “I can say that we have long-term deals in place already with the other four major publishers and we would accept any similar deal with Penguin Random House U.K.”

The terms negotiations relate to the revised agency deals put in place after a European Commission investigation four years ago: these deals with a number of big UK publishers are due to run out this year. The negotiations are thought to be with the UK end of the PRH business and do not include the American arm whose revised agency deal with Amazon in the States does not run out till later this year.

In past negotiations Amazon has taken the decision to remove buy buttons from titles, or downgrade their availability by taking away the ability to pre-order or fulfil orders quickly as part of its negotiating tactic. In its very public 2014 negotiation with Hachette Book Group USA, Amazon removed pre-order buttons from some Hachette titles and delayed shipping. It was widely criticised by some authors for doing so, but publicly supported by others.

Amazon did not comment when approached by The Bookseller. In an emailed comment Penguin Random House US spokeswoman Claire Von Schilling said “We are in continuous conversation with Amazon with whom we have an ongoing business relationship. We have no intention whatsoever of ceasing to sell our print or digital titles on Amazon. We want our books to be accessible and available everywhere.”

Rumours are also circulating in the trade about tough terms negotiations with a second big UK publisher, though The Bookseller could not confirm the details as this piece was written.