The war of words between Amazon and Hachette US escalated overnight, after Amazon offered authors caught up in the terms dispute with Hachette 100% of royalties on all e-book sales while the impasse goes on.
Hachette US immediately rejected the offer, calling on Amazon to "withdraw the sanctions they have unilaterally imposed” on book sales.
The move suggests that the giant retailer is growing wary of the large numbers of authors who have called on the company to resolve its terms dispute with Hachette.
A letter sent from David Naggar, vice president of Kindle content and independent publishing, to some Hachette authors, literary agents and US Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson, offered a deal whereby "for as long as this dispute lasts, Hachette authors would get 100% of the sales price of every Hachette e-book we sell. Both Amazon and Hachette would forego all revenue and profit from the sale of every e-book until an agreement is reached."
The letter was quoted in the New York Times and printed in full on technology website Gigaom.
Amazon had previously proposed funding an author pool alongside Hachette to benefit authors who were affected by the terms despite.
Hachette responded to the letter by inviting Amazon to "withdraw the sanctions they have unilaterally imposed". It added in a statement: "We will continue to negotiate in good faith and with the hope of a swift conclusion. We believe that the best outcome for the writers we publish is a contract with Amazon that brings genuine marketing benefits and whose terms allow Hachette to continue to invest in writers, marketing, and innovation. We look forward to resolving this dispute soon and to the benefit of the writers who have trusted their books to us."
The New York Times referred to Hachette describing the proposal as Amazon trying to force the publisher to commit suicide.
Amazon in response said: "We call baloney. Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate. It wouldn’t be ‘suicide'. They can afford it. What they’re really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage. All the while, they are stalling and refusing to negotiate, despite the pain caused to their authors. Our offer is sincere. They should take us up on it."
Authors have condemned the ongoing terms dispute, with bestselling writers Lee Child, John Grisham and James Patterson all signing an open letter calling on the retailer to resolve its dispute. Meanwhile, a group of self-published writers created a petition calling on people not to boycott Amazon, and praising the site for its support of writers and readers.