The president of Simon & Schuster’s parent company, CBS Corp, has said the company is currently in negotiations with Amazon.
Les Moonves, also c.e.o. of CBS Corp, met with Amazon c.e.o. Jeff Bezos last week to discuss their businesses, he revealed in an interview at Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Tech conference.
Moonves said he spoke to Bezos about a number of things – some CBS shows are available to view on Amazon – and said that in “publishing, there are various issues”.
Amazon is currently in negotiations over terms with Hachette Book Group in the US, which has resulted in delayed deliveries of physical copies of some books and the removal of pre-order buttons from some titles.
Asked how he would feel if Amazon treated Simon & Schuster’s authors the way it was treating Hachette’s, Moonves said: “We are negotiating with Amazon as we speak so I don’t want to get into too much detail about it. Obviously Amazon has a very definitive point of view on what should be done in the publishing business. Those in the publishing world are not totally copacetic with it.”
He added: “It’s going to be a very interesting thing as we go into the future.”
The Bookseller understands that Amazon’s new terms have already been presented to other publishers in the US, but have so far been rejected. In the UK, as reported in June, the Luxembourg arm of the Seattle-based e-tailer has talked with a range of publishers over new terms including new POD arrangements for books that go out of stock, and Most Favored Nation clauses.
Amazon is also believed to be seeking contracts that are not fixed in length, giving it the ability to negotiate new terms at any point. Amazon’s KDP contracts already operate in this way. Despite these ongoing contract negotiations, in some cases stretching back months, Amazon has not so far punished other publishers—besides Hachette—and their authors by reducing the availability of their titles on Amazon.
Moonves admission has also led to speculation that Amazon could be negotiating to buy Simon & Schuster. The speculation means that Amazon now joins a long list of prospective buyers for Simon & Schuster dating back at least 15 years. CBS has so far shown no inclination to sell.
In the latest development between Hachette and Amazon, the online retailer wrote to Hachette authors asking how they felt about temporarily getting 100% royalties on e-books during the dispute, a move called “highly disingenuous” by the American Author’s Guild.